Of Musings and Wonderings

{May 19, 2013}   Book Review: Silk by Caitlín R. Kiernan

Silk-Caitlin-R-Kiernan-Paperback16-lgeSo I was bit stuck on what to write about today. See, I finished Silk this week. I also finished Glee, and Doctor Who ended last night. (With an awesome episode. If you’re a fan and you haven’t had the chance yet, check it out.) I decided to go with Silk, because I finished it first and figured it’s good to get that out-of-the-way. Might end up doing another post today, but if not, expect a few more from me this week.


Silk, by Caitlín R. Kiernan, is essentially a  book about outcasts. It’s got your typical outcast type kids; goths, junkies, lesbians, kids who are just a bit weird. And because of that, it feels very much a product of its time. It was published in 1998, and personally, it feels that in the fifteen years since, we’ve come some way towards outcasts being more acceptable. We had emos between then and now, we’ve seen gay rights progress onwards and geeks are now cool. Not that this is a fault of the book. But I feel like it wouldn’t work quite so well if it was written today.

The book focuses on a small group of characters, mainly Spyder, Nikki and Daria, with some sections dedicated to the others surrounding them. It reminded me in parts of Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls, but that might have just been the elements of setting and the whole outcast idea. The characters themselves are fairly interesting. Daria feels stronger than the others, and she comes across as perhaps the most likable. She has flaws, of course, but they’re fitted in nicely and serve to make her more human. Nikki is at times a bit bland, but she has her moments.

Spyder, on the other hand…

Spyder feels like she’s supposed to be the main focus of the book, but it’s hard to see why these people are so drawn to her. She doesn’t seem to do much except mope around and freak out. She feels like she’s there just for the purpose of the plot, more than anything else. The biggest mysteries of the book surround her, but it’s difficult in parts to tell what links them all together.

The horror element creeps up throughout the book. It’s handled well, mostly building up with being sights caught from the corner’s of eyes. The characters become more irrational as they are plagued, but it was only once the horror came into it that I found myself actually enjoying the book. (Except Daria’s parts. They were pretty solid throughout)

I felt like there was a lot missing; we’re given hints to things that are never explained, and it’s hard to tell if the events are manifested by Spyder or some outside force. I felt like the blurb was a bit misleading, talking about gods, heaven and hell, but none of that is really seen. The idea of angels is hinted at, but again it’s hard to tell if that’s actually real in the realm of the book, or just part of Spyder’s crazy dad’s thoughts.

So yeah, I left the book feeling unsure about how I actually felt about it. It has some strong reviews on Goodreads, but I can’t seem them all as being justified. I do think it is a strong debut novel, and it has its moments, but for the most part, I’m not sure if it’s going to be one I would recommend to someone else. Maybe it’s just not my kind of book. I prefer my supernatural to be more…there. Though I do like the slight ambiguity in trying to work out if it’s in someone’s head or not.

The horror was decent though, and actually had me cringing in parts. Like I said, a strong debut novel, just not my cup of tea.


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