cover image Alabaster


Caitlin R. Kiernan, . . Subterranean, $25 (182pp) ISBN 978-1-59606-060-9

Dancy Flammarion, an albino adolescent who speaks to angels and slays monsters in human guise in the backwoods of contemporary Georgia, is the heroine of the five interlocking stories that make up this eerie dark fantasy collection. Kiernan introduced Dancy as an enigmatic waif in her horror opus Threshold (2001) and has since conceived an elaborate cosmology in which the fey girl is one of many human avatars fighting small skirmishes on Earth that have cataclysmic repercussions across planes of reality. In "Les Fleurs Empoisonnées," Dancy is taken captive by a matriarchy of necrophiles whose decaying mansion is a nexus point for perverse and grotesque phenomena. "Bainbridge" interweaves multiple story lines that cut across time and space to show the far-reaching ramifications of Dancy's efforts to exorcise an ancient evil infesting an abandoned church. Kiernan imbues the tales with disquieting gothic imagery and envelops them in rich, evocative prose that conveys cohesiveness beyond their fragmentary plots. (Sept.)