Friday, March 29, 2013

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

Last week I had a nightmare based on this book: you are welcome to use that fact as a gauge to how deeply this series of short stories impacted me.

My dream can be attributed to the standout tale "Reeling for the Empire," which is not about vampires. Just because the book has vampire in the title doesn't mean it's wall-to-wall bloodsuckers - actually, only the first, titular story has anything to do with them (a mere 9% of the book, for those counting).

These are eight tales of classic, creepy horror; the kind of stories that make your shoulders creep closer to your ears as you read. As a tale begins you're never sure where it may take you - stories include persistent seagulls, an eerie scarecrow, a freak blizzard, and the absurd fans of a perpetually losing team. How will they end up? That's the fun of it.

You may remember I was underwhelmed by Swamplandia! last year. Suffice it to say I enjoyed this book much, much more. I'm a convert - this is probably my new favorite horror-genre book. Russell's unique, original tales never fall into the familiar and well-trod story grooves, and each is a jewel of suspense and creativity.

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