The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan

Caitlín R. Kiernan

Caitlín R. Kiernan is widely acknowledged as one of dark fantasy and horror’s most acclaimed short fiction writers. Collected in this retrospective volume is her finest work: visceral, sensual, devastating, and impossible to resist.


The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan

by Caitlín R. Kiernan

ISBN: Print: 978-1-61696-302-6 Digital: 978-1-61696-303-3

Published: February 2019

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback and Digital


With an introduction by Richard Kadrey

“One of our essential writers of dark fiction.”
New York Times

Caitlín R. Kiernan is widely acknowledged as one of dark fantasy and horror’s most skilled and acclaimed short fiction writers. Here in this retrospective volume is her finest work, previously only collected in sold-out limited editions. Kiernan’s tales are visceral, sensual, devastating, and impossible to resist: a reporter is goaded by her girlfriend into watching people morphing into terrifying art; a critic interviews an elderly model from a series of famous mermaid paintings; a moviegoer watches a banned arthouse film only to discover exactly why it has been banned.

Praise for The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan

“Caitlín Kiernan is a minister of dark magic, and any collection of her work is a must-read.”
—Chuck Wendig, author of Hyperion and The Shield

 “Caitlín Kiernan is one of the true visionaries and finest stylists in our field, and very possibly the most lyrical. Her tales enrich the imagination, and represent the literature of the dark at its most gorgeous and disturbing. This book is a treasure house of wonders and terrors, and an essential purchase for anyone who cares about the great tradition of weird fiction.”
—Ramsey Campbell, author of The Parasite and Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach

“Kiernan’s stories will submerge you in a strange world filled with the twisted, radical reflections of Giger and Lovecraft, their aesthetic skins stretched over anger, pain, queerness, and courage.”
—Lara Elena Donnelly, author of the Amberlough Dossier series

“Caitlín R. Kiernan is one of the most inventive, seductive, and wickedly intelligent writers working today in any genre, and this treasury puts her powers on full display. Her stories are promiscuous vampires, eager to draw their energy from folklore, space opera, crime fiction, weird tales, and the dreams of the silver screen. Whether their tone is streetwise or scholarly, archaic or futuristic, these tales share Kiernan’s signature flavor of a last drink on the edge of the abyss. She is Our Lady of Elation and Melancholy. A sinister, spellbinding collection.”
—Sofia Samatar, author of A Stranger in Olondria and Monster Portraits

About the author

Caitlín R. Kiernan was born in Dublin, Ireland, and raised in the southeastern U.S. She is the author of thirteen novels, including The Drowning Girl, winner of the Bram Stoker and the James Tiptree, Jr. awards, as well as more than two hundred and fifty short stories. Kiernan has written graphic novels for both DC/Vertigo and Dark Horse Comics. She has fronted a short-lived goth-rock band, and worked as a vertebrate paleontologist in both Alabama and Colorado; in 1988, she described a new genus and species of ancient marine lizard, the mosasaur Selmasaurus russelli. Kiernan currently lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her partner, Kathryn Pollnac, and two very large cats, Selwyn and Lydia.

Praise for Caitlín R. Kiernan

“Caitlín Kiernan is the poet and bard of the wasted and the lost.”
—Neil Gaiman, author of Norse Mythology

“Caitlín R. Kiernan is an original.”
—Clive Barker, author of The Books of Blood series and Hellraiser

“Caitlín R. Kiernan writes like a Gothic cathedral on fire.”
—Poppy Z. Brite, author of Lost Souls

Praise for The Drowning Girl

“Incisive, beautiful and as perfectly crafted as a puzzle-box, The Drowning Girl took my breath away.”
—Holly Black, New York Times bestselling author of Red Glove

“This is a masterpiece. It deserves to be read in and out of genre for a long, long time.”
—Elizabeth Bear, author of Grail

“A beautifully written, startlingly original novel.”
—Elizabeth Hand, author of Illyria

“With The Drowning Girl, Caitlín R. Kiernan moves firmly into the new vanguard, still being formed, of our best and most artful authors of the gothic and fantastic—those capable of writing fiction of deep moral and artistic seriousness.”
—Peter Straub, author of A Ghost Story

“Caitlín R. Kiernan turns the ghost story inside out and transforms it.”
—Brian Evanson, author of Last Days

The Drowning Girl features all those elements of Caitlín R. Kiernan’s writing that readers have come to expect—a prose style of wondrous luminosity, an atmosphere of languorous melancholy, and an inexplicable mixture of aching beauty and clutching terror.”
—S. T. Joshi, author of I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft

“Kiernan pins out the traditional memoir on her worktable and metamorphoses it into something wholly different and achingly familiar, more alien, more difficult, more beautiful, and more true.”
—Catherynne M. Valente, New York Times bestselling author of Deathless

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Table of Contents

Introduction by Richard Kadrey

Andromeda Among the Stones
La Peau Verte
Houses Under the Sea
Bradbury Weather
A Child’s Guide to the Hollow Hills
The Ammonite Violin (Murder Ballad No. 4)
A Season of Broken Dolls
In View of Nothing
The Ape’s Wife
The Steam Dancer (1896)
Fish Bride (1970)
The Mermaid of the Concrete Ocean
The Maltese Unicorn
Tidal Forces
The Prayer of Ninety Cats
One Tree Hill (The World As Cataclysm)
Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No. 8)
Fairy Tale of Wood Street