Becky Spratford's Reviews > Orange World and Other Stories

Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell
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it was amazing

Three Words That Describe This Book: weird, unsettling, captivating

Let's get this out of the way....I loved this collection, but that doesn't not mean every story was perfect for me.

I am not going to rehash the plots of every story here. First, others will do that in their reviews. And Second, what happens in each story is varied and doesn't really matter. What does matter is the over all feel of these stories.

This book is the perfect example of the popular genre of "weird fiction." Here is how I define weird fiction in a piece that I am writing for NoveList with the Adult Reading Round Table:

"Although weird fiction traces its roots back to the 19th Century, the term was popularized by H.P. Lovecraft in the 1920s. Today’s weird fiction is more than just an homage to a Lovecraftian aesthetic. These stories actively blend tropes common to horror, mythical fantasy, and science fiction with an intent to disorient both protagonist and reader, creating feelings that run the gamut from confusion and dread to wonder and enlightenment."

We have a list of authors that follows and Russell is on that list! And that definition reveals the appeal of her stories.

Over all the book is awesomely askew and even darker than her work normally is. Closest to horror she's been, actually. There is one straight up ghost story, one devil story, one historical zombie story and a few with a Gothic feel. Again I am not telling you which ones because 1, part of the fun here was discovering each tale for it's uniqueness in plot and atmosphere. And 2, because they really are all about how you feel reading them and the connections you make with the characters. Plot is the vehicle to get there, but not the point.

But there is more than horror here. As I said above about weird fiction- you get all of the speculative genres and a whole lot of unsettling feelings. But the unease is meant to make you take a harder look at your real world after closing the book.

One of my favorite stories was a Cli-fi tale in the style of Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach Trilogy or BORNE, set in New Florida. It was lyrically beautiful despite the awful situation is was describing.

This is easily one of the best story collections I have read. I wish she'd write another novel, but if these is my consolation prize, I am still a winner.

Authors I often recommend to fans of Russell: Elizabeth McCracken, Steven Millhauser, Jeff VanderMeer, Carmen Maria Machado, Keith Donohue, Kelly Link

Newer voices whose stories I would suggest you try: Damien Angelica Walters, Kristin DeMeester, and Samanta Schweblin.
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Reading Progress

May 21, 2019 – Shelved
June 15, 2019 – Started Reading
June 20, 2019 – Finished Reading

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