fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review Caitlin R. Kiernan Chance and Deacon Daughter of HoundsDaughter of Hounds by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Always on the lookout for a new author to sink my teeth into, I decide to read Caitlín R. Kiernan when I came across her novel Daughter Of Hounds. Upon further research, I discovered that this was merely the newest entry involving psychic Deacon Silvey. Knowing that, I decided to check out Ms. Kiernan’s previous works first, starting with her sophomore effort Threshold. After completing the book, I admit I was torn. On the one hand, Threshold offered a lot to like: flawed, yet interesting characters; a thought-provokingly surreal world to explore; and a promising new talent in Ms. Kiernan whose gifted prose definitely made the story shine. On the other hand, I felt that the book’s ending was too ambiguous for my tastes — even if that was the author’s intention — and left me feeling unsatisfied.

So, it was with some trepidation that I undertook the follow-up novel Low Red Moon. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed this volume much more than Threshold. Once again following the exploits of Deacon Silvey and Chance Matthews, and introducing us to the likes of serial killer Narcissa Snow, the Children of the Cuckoo and the Hounds, Low Red Moon is a more clear-cut, yet still complex horror tale that brilliantly straddles the line between the visceral and the bizarre. Which finally brings me to Daughter of Hounds.

First of all, I don’t think it is necessary to have read either Threshold or Low Red Moon to understand and enjoy Daughter of Hounds, for each novel easily stands on its own, though I would recommend Low Red Moon since Daughter of Hounds seems to be a more direct sequel to that book. Of course, if you’re someone who enjoys all those subtle nuances and references that Daughter of Hounds possesses, then I would, by all means look into Ms. Kiernan’s previous works.

Now, Daughter of Hounds… what can I say? Of the three novels that I’ve read by Caitlín R. Kiernan, I enjoyed Daughter of Hounds the most for many reasons. To begin with, the writing is just magnificent. Ms. Kiernan has vastly matured as an author and the pose and command with which she brings her vivid imagination to life is awe-inspiring. Secondly, the characters… Though set in the same world as Threshold and Low Red Moon, previous protagonists take a back seat to a whole new cast that includes Soldier, Emma Jean Silvey, Pearl, “Odd Willie” Lothrop, Saben White, and the Bailiff, not to mention a more in depth look at the Children of the Cuckoo and the Hounds of Cain. While the narrative switches mainly between Soldier and Emma Jean, each unique character figures prominently in the overall tale and end up much more complex than they first appear — a standout trait of Ms. Kiernan’s. Finally, the story itself is a beautiful amalgam of gothic horror, urban fantasy and mythological fiction that transcends genre restraints, and is, at its core, a powerful tale of self-discovery and living with the choices that we make.

Undoubtedly, I have become an avid fan of Caitlín Kiernan and highly recommend her novels to anyone who likes their books full of ambitious ideas, poetic wording, compelling characters, and open-ended conclusions that challenge the readers’ own imagination. In short, I will anxiously be awaiting Caitlín R. Kiernan’s next creation.

Chance & Deacon — (2001-2007) In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers and Alabaster are stories about Dancy Flammarion. Publisher: Chance Matthews, a troubled young woman grieving over the death of her grandfather, stumbles upon a bizarre fossil among her geologist grandparents’ artifacts, a discovery that lead to an encounter with a strangle girl who claims to have been charged with the task of battling monsters and who is out to enlist Chance’s assistance in her quest.

Novels about Chance & Deacon: book review Caitlín R. Kiernan Threshold, Low Red Moon, Daughter of the Hounds Chance and Deacon Emmiebook review Caitlín R. Kiernan Threshold, Low Red Moon, Daughter of the Hounds Chance and Deacon Emmiebook review Caitlín R. Kiernan Threshold, Low Red Moon, Daughter of the Hounds Chance and Deacon Emmie

Stories about Dancy Flammarion:

book review Caitlín R. Kiernan In the Garden of Poisonous Flowersbook review Caitlín R. Kiernan Alabaster


  • Robert Thompson

    ROBERT THOMPSON (on FanLit's staff July 2009 — October 2011) is the creator and former editor of Fantasy Book Critic, a website dedicated to the promotion of speculative fiction. Before FBC, he worked in the music industry editing Kings of A&R and as an A&R scout for Warner Bros. Besides reading and music, Robert also loves video games, football, and art. He lives in the state of Washington with his wife Annie and their children Zane and Kayla. Robert retired from FanLit in October 2011 after more than 2 years of service. He doesn't do much reviewing anymore, but he still does a little work for us behind the scenes.