After reading Kiernan's short fiction (most of which is astounding) and the many good reviews this books has received, I was really very sorry to find Silk near impossible to take. The characters are broadly written caricatures, Goth kid cliches in a Goth cliche universe, interchangeable and utterly forgettable. The writing sways from brilliant to boring, from perfection to slash, sometimes within the same line. The story itself only begins to exist somewhere around the halfway mark, then steamrolls toward an ending neither satisfying nor believable.
Kiernan has proven herself a far better writer than this novel indicates. Here, her work falls into a pit of Goth subculture cliches. By page 15, all are present--the strange obsession with hair and hair dye descriptions (each character can be told from the rest by his or her hair color and quality), Tom Waits, The Cure, Nosferatu, boring drug use, and a character named Byron. All of which would be fine had Kiernan raised even one of her characters out of the blandness and made him/her real. Unfortunately, the next two hundred pages are just more of the same. When the story does actually begin, the reader is too sick of the characters to care.
Silk - a novel about hair dye, Tom Waits, and spooky posturing; a sophomoric mix of embarassingly overwrought and brilliantly poetic prose; a heartless, shapeless story crammed into a black lace costume; a story Poppy Brite would have written better; a misguided attempt by a writer who is capable of so much more.
If you are new to Kiernan, read her short story collections. Their praise, I'm sure, is far more deserved than that of this book.