I would argue that anything Caitlin Kiernan writes is the very best but I am biased that way. This edition collects some really fabulous stories and I enjoyed every one of them. These stories are not just horror and weird fiction. These stories will fucking haunt you.
It is hard to describe Kiernan’s fiction without referencing other genres and that is a disservice as I feel most of her work transcends the genres they are related to. Take Lovecraft for example. Kiernan writes about strange ancient horrible monsters that live under the ocean and will probably devour us all BUT, when she writes it with her paleontologist background, it feels much more vivid, real and possible than when Lovecraft does it with his purple prose. Keirnan taps into the wonder and mystery of the ocean in ways that remind me of Joseph Conrad. I am repulsed and enchanted at the same time.
It is the same with her weird fiction. The hallmark of Weird Fiction is to not explain shit about what is going on, and Kiernan does that, but she also spends a lot of time with characters trying desperately to explain the unexplainable. Her weird fiction feels like it has undergone a rigorous peer review and they still couldn’t figure that shit out. Again, it just makes her fiction feel far more vivid than others.
I can’t pick a favorite story out of this anthology. Is it the story about Unicorn dildo? The family that live at the edge of some terrible gate? Or is it the reporter trying to make sense of his lover leading a cult into a suicide walk into the ocean? I haven’t even mentioned the one that explores whatever happened to Ann Darrow and her sorrow over Kong. And how about the nightmarish story about what happens when you get caught by a Fairy Queen?
There are too many treasures here to elevate one above the other.