Review: Black Helicopters

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So, I read the sequel to Black Helicopters by Caitlin R. Kiernan some time ago. It is now in an expanded and definitive form from the World Fantasy award-nominated original short story.

Ptolema is merely a pawn in her agency’s global game of chess and is attempting to unravel what has become virtually inscrutable to just about everyone, maybe even herself.

Two sisters, deadly products of abominable experiences, evade their hunters, but they lack resources and options. Something is happening on the coast of New England, a sign of the stranger unraveling that is occurring on a global scale. Stretching back and forth through time as these consequences ripple hundreds of years into the futures.

This was a far tougher read than Agents of Dreamland. Maybe this is because several sections were written at much later and that Kiernan is attempting to tell a story both in 2012, but also in the 1960s and even far into the future. This leads to a more disjointed plot and overall narrative than previously thought and even with Kiernan’s considerable talents, it does come off more obtuse than transparent.

As a huge fan of cosmic horror, there is something about these unspeakable horrors that dance around the margins for most of this book, which is of course part of the sub genre, but it seems almost like Kiernan draws this out to an excruciating degree to where there’s almost no pay off even in scenes midway through the book. The overarching story should bind each of these chapters in various time periods, but there’s only a loose tethering to one another, which can cause the reader to be kicked out of the story, rather than reveling in Kiernan’s smooth prose.

Overall, this much anticipated novella, was one that requires pushing through the dense narrative, but some readers might ask why? A re-read will bring clarity to the narrative, but some readers may find little reason to.

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