A strange girl speaks of being charged by an angel to battle monsters and claims she cannot do it alone. She needs Chance’s help.
Chance Matthews has suffered enough tragedies. The latest—her grandfather’s death—has left her shaken, convinced that she will always be alone. What she needs now is time—time to recover, time to determine what her future will be. What she doesn’t need is a strange girl with alabaster skin who knows things about Chance she can’t possibly know.
Chance doesn’t believe in angels. Or monsters. But among the artifacts left by her geologist grandparents, there lies a fossil of a creature that couldn’t possibly have ever existed.
But it did. And still does…
Silk (1999), Kiernan's first novel, established her as a leading exponent of the generation-X horror story. This ambitious sophomore effort is a bold step backward: a distinctively modern tale that invokes cosmic terrors redolent of past masters H.P. Lovecraft and Algernon Blackwood. Set in present-day Birmingham, Ala., the novel centers on Chance Matthews, a promising young paleontologist left bereft by the recent deaths of friends and family. Chance and ex-boyfriend Deke Silvey, a loser with latent psychic powers, wallow in self-destructive angst until they're sought out by Dancy Flammarion, a strange teenage girl who claims to be pursued by monsters. Details of Dancy's wild story inexplicably jibe with an anomaly Chance finds in the fossil record, and a pattern gradually emerges that points to an inconceivably ancient entity surviving from Earth's prehistory that is consciously shaping their lives and miseries to suit its inscrutable purposes. Kiernan rises to the challenge of evoking incomprehensible horrors by skillfully deploying symbols that suggest much more than they show. Her oblique and dreamy prose style slows the narrative to a torpid crawl in spots, but ultimately contributes to the thick atmosphere of dread that supports the novel's weird events and sustains its mood of inarticulable terror. A finale that veers unexpectedly from a seemingly inevitable display of supernatural fireworks to a subtly disarming denouement only underscores the intelligence behind this carefully crafted tale of awe-inspired nightmare.