Threshold, Caitlin R. Kiernan

I got this book out of the library because I put Martin Millar’s name into the Literature-Map website, and Caitlin Kiernan’s name was close to his.  This is one of those things that I should know straight away isn’t going to work out for me: every time I do this, I find that the closest authors to the name I’ve entered are people I either haven’t heard of or don’t like, whereas the names of authors I do like are farther out to the perimeter.  Douglas Coupland, Neil Gaiman, T.S. Eliot, and Alexandre Dumas are all well out at the borders of Martin Millar.

Threshold is about an unhappy geologist called Chance, and her unhappy psychic alcoholic ex-boyfriend, Deacon; and how an albino teenager called Dancy finds them and asks for their help fighting monsters.  They are not really into this because they are busy being unhappy, but eventually the evidence that monsters are happening becomes overwhelming.

I do not like scary stories.  I don’t need films and books to scare me – I already scare me plenty.  It’s not the fantasy parts of this book that frighten me, it’s the real-life parts.  (That is almost always the case.)  I couldn’t decide how I felt about the writing in the book either.  It’s nonlinear, and a tiny bit like Rumer Godden (whom I love), and there are bits that you aren’t sure at first whether it’s dreams or really happening.  And there are lines I really liked, like “arguing in smaller and smaller circles, and Chance always wrong, always the one who isn’t making sense”, and “the truth and her mind push each other away, opposing magnetic poles”.

Possibly because the book was frightening, I never really engaged with any of the characters.  I actively didn’t engage with them, which is my fault, not the book’s, but I was feeling jumpy when I was reading it, and I didn’t want to fall too far in.  (Like I do when I read The Scarlet Pimpernel, for example.)  The end was strange and unresolved, and I feel very ambivalent about this book, and I can’t decide if I want to read more of Caitlin Kiernan’s books.

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