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Silk [Paperback]

Caitlin Kiernan
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 5 2002
They are the young misfits...society's castoffs...urban strays looking for a thrill. Something cheap, anything to get them through the night. Sleepwalking on caffeine, nicotine, and drugs, they wait out the dawn in death-rock clubs and shadowy back alleys...

Then into their midst comes the enigmatic Spyder. A patron saint of the alienated and lost, she invites them into her mesmerizing world-but has she been sent to redeem them or destroy them?

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Despite its title, there's nothing smooth or sexy about this skin-crawling debut from Kiernan, an author with one helluvan imagination and a startling lack of inhibition. At the center of this modern gothic horror story is Spyder Baxter, a deeply troubled young woman haunted by terrifying memories of childhood and her insane, abusive father. But his transgressions were so heinous that the demons aren't just in her head anymore; they've taken on a life of their own and are taking over Spyder's house, crawling out of the basement and into everything and everyone she cares about. Caught in Spyder's web of bad karma are a motley crew of disenfranchised Gen Xers all living on the edge and trying to heal various psychic wounds of their own. They've each got plenty of reasons to be hallucinating, and the author does a good job of blurring the lines between their bad acid trips and spectral sightings. But reading Kiernan is rather like deciphering entrails, filled with the violence of raw, edgy words: "The angry screech of denied retribution, raging shadows and nightshade teeth." Her rambling metaphors ("Dull smack of her shoulder against the wall, again and again, meat-thud tattoo") hint at inexperience, but her naked energy will appeal to grungers weaned on The Hunger.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.


A serious mastery of visual imagery. You absolutely must read it. -- Carpe Noctem Magazine #14, Summer 1998, reviewed by Mehitobel Wilson

An engrossing and exquisitely lyrical novel. Caitlin Kiernan has established herself as a writer of considerable power and artistry. -- Hellnotes, 1998, reviewed by Brian Hodge

An incremental triumph of texture and layering. Kiernan's is a dark and mellifluous voice to which we should all listen. -- Locus, Vol. 41 No. 3, September 1998, reviewed by Edward Bryant

Personally, I just loved this book and can't wait to see what she writes next. -- The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Vol. 96 No. 6, December 1998, reviewed by Charles de Lint

Style, mood, and characterization blend for an addictive and thought-provoking story, every bit a page-turner. --, April 2000, reviewed by Shane Ivey --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Daria sat by herself on the sidewalk, fat spiral bound notebook open across her lap, back pressed firmly against the raw brick, pretentiously raw brick sand-blasted for effect, for higher rent and the illusion of renewal, the luxury of history. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A shocking disappointment. June 19 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I really wanted to like this, but... May 25 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've been dipping my toes into Goth fiction a bit recently. Started with Poppy Z. Brite's Lost Souls, which I found reasonably entertaining but not the earthshattering experience others did. I felt her personal obsessions (Goth culture, gay sex, explicit violence) got in the way of her storytelling. So instead of reading another Brite I turned to her friend Caitlin Kiernan. I read most of the reader comments here at Amazon and got the impression that Kiernan's Silk would be a very different kind of book than Lost Souls, indeed, it sounded more immediately appealing.
Alas, I'm coming away from this even more unsatisfied than I was after finishing Lost Souls. It's not that it's not well written - for the most part it is. While a bit choppy in spots I found Kiernan's style much more appealing than her buddy Brite's. She mixes her pop culture references in naturally instead of intrusively. She has a strong sense of place with her Birmingham setting, and characterization is obviously a strong point for her. The fact that the first 3/4 of the book are devoted to character development and nothing really happens until, oh, page 265 or so, doesn't bother me in and of itself - it's hardly the first book to do that (hell, if you want to get technical, Anne Rice spent two whole novels doing character development before getting the actual plot started in Queen of the Damned). What bothers me is that I find the characters so enormously unappealing. They're all self-absorbed 20somethings proudly and defiantly wrapped up in their own pain and dysfunction. I couldn't find any sympathy in me, much less empathy, for any of them, not even Spyder, who was horribly abused as a child. Every time Daria lost her temper over her junky boyfriend I wanted to slap her.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Well, the new "goth" author rears its ugly head. Thankfully, I didn't have to buy this awful book, as it was given as a review copy. Bad move on the editor's part, but not as bad a move as buying the manuscript in the first place. Kiernan's plodding and pretentious prose is awful enough in short stories, but absolutely intolerable in a novel-length format. Writing about execrable characters no one in a right frame of mind cares about is a mystery to me. And yet again I find myself amused by the holier-than-thou attitude of the alternative set, who think, in a kind of weird reversal of roles, that they are superior to the mundanes whose existences so bother them. This novel showed no promise at all, and likely reinforced the author's lamentable interpretation that this kind of writing is anything more than awful. I shudder to think what good work is shouldered out of the way so that garbage like this can see the light of publication. Ah, well. Perhaps there are enough Poppy Brite fans around to ensure that the book sees a profit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Much ado about nothing... Nov. 4 2002
By A Customer
Very disappointing read, and don't get me wrong, I like gothic literature and knew what I was in for. The problem with this particular gothic novel is that it's really only a short story strung out over hundreds of pages. Very slow, but I kept hoping it was going to build into a real crescendo. Unfortunately, even the ending is slow and a let-down. I love Caitlin's writing and the ins and outs of the characters like Spyder and Robin kept me going till the end, but then when it was finished, I was like, what was the point? No monsters...not even a villain to speak of! It's just words on a page. It's like my brother jumping out of a closet saying boo! Not really scary, just kind of there. I give it two stars for writing style, but if you're looking for plot, look elsewhere.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars This is not goth
What an unfortunate train wreck this turned out to be.

I wanted to knife every single character in this silly novel and just kept wondering why even they themselves... Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2009 by Yanna
1.0 out of 5 stars Just awful!
Every cliche possible is dusted off for this lame story. Based on the reviews I was expecting something really intriguing, but this was just silly, trite, and tedious.
Published on July 1 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it!
This book is wonderful. I've read it a few times now and I still find myself attached to many of the characters, wondering what will become of them (lucky we will be able to find... Read more
Published on March 25 2004 by Samm
3.0 out of 5 stars What's all the fuss?
I really don't understand what all the fuss is about. While there were definitely some well written passages in the book, but I found the oddball literary style and freakish... Read more
Published on March 2 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Silk...
Kiernan surpasses Brite in bringing her characters to life! All were well fleshed out, and they felt like 'real' people in an unreal situation. Read more
Published on Feb. 5 2004 by varnya
4.0 out of 5 stars Poetry of the night
This book is the most poetic horror novel I've read in a long time ... maybe ever. Poppy Z. Brite compared it to a gothic cathedral on fire, and that's really an accurate... Read more
Published on Dec 5 2003 by Alexander Gitlits
5.0 out of 5 stars Caitlin Kiernan should be a name heard in Hollywood
Atfer having gone through Anne Rice books, Tolkien books, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and so on, all these books have a very definite style of writing. Read more
Published on Nov. 12 2003 by "couzin2000"
3.0 out of 5 stars Silk
Mysterious monsters harass Goth kids in this first novel from the prominent New Horror writer.
For me, the shiny sentence-level writing is the strongest point of this book. Read more
Published on Oct. 6 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow-moving gothic horror
Traditional horror readers might be disappointed by Silk. The poetic descriptions are subtle, unwrapping too slowly to create enough thrill or tension. Read more
Published on Oct. 4 2003 by Lisa
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed in the end
Overall this was a good read but the ending did not live up to the rest of the book.
Published on Sept. 9 2003 by S. Thompson
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