Nineteen short stories of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, are brought together in The Dinosaur Tourist, Caitlín R. Kiernan’s fifteenth collection of short fiction. This is my first introduction to her works, and all have a Lovecraftian quality, slowly pulling back the edges of reality, testing the water of surrealism, until a new world is upon you and there’s no turning back. Beware dead swans, large black dogs, psychiatrists, road trips at night, and of course, dinosaurs.

Some of my favorites include:

  • Whisper Road (Murder Ballad No. 9) – An addict with anger issues and his girlfriend break into a farm house and get into more trouble than they bargained for. On the road, pale red blinking lights in the night sky follow them ceaselessly.
  • Albatross – Two strangers find a dead sea creature washed up on a beach. It doesn’t stink, neither can identify it, no one ever comes to clean it up, and the ocean won’t take it back.
  • Fairy Tale of Wood Street – A woman see her lover’s tail for the first time and remembers an encounter she had with a forest creature in her youth.

Many of the stories in this collection boast great concepts, such as idea for The Cats of River Street (1925), in which a group of street cats guard humanity from the tentacled horrors of the deep. But often the execution doesn’t work for me. Many are too slow. Many are narrated by characters with weak voices. The punchline is often softened by not arriving sooner. But the ones that initially grabbed me have not let go.

Thanks to NetGalley and Subterranean Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review!

“She stole so much of you,” says Willie Love. “Whoever she was, whether it was Marseilles or Paris. She mined your memories, scooped you out clean. She left you lost to fill in the gaps, to weave false recollections that may, perhaps, approach the truth, but which will never touch it.”