18. In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers – Caitlin R. Kiernan
This novella was my introduction to Caitlin R. Kiernan. She’s been recommended to me before and I’ve now read a few of her books, although I haven’t read Threshold, the novel directly related to this novella. In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers read like a sketch for a possible novel to me, like she was experimenting with side characters instead of trying to tell a complete story. It is a novella, but that doesn’t mean that fragmented ideas are going to tell the story for you; it really reminded me of seeing Hellraiser for the first time – I was interested, but I couldn’t quite figure the story out (mostly why I’d want anyone to escape Pinhead), was the point that mistakes were made? That puzzles will ruin your life? Why would anyone want to marry Julia?
Kiernan seems very much like a writer who works with impressions, atmosphere, and feelings rather than making her characters full as life, which is fine, but not really my cup of tea as a reader anymore. That sort of writing does seem to work best in short form, as I found when I read Kiernan’s The Red Tree. I’m hoping that reading Threshold will help this novella become more of a complete story to me.