While joy driving one night, Imp, a schizophrenic young woman, picks up another young woman, Eva Canning, who is standing stark naked alongside a river. This encounters shreds the poor girl's mind as she re-imagines her passenger as a siren and a werewolf until she is able to confront the truth.
Kiernan wrote the story in first person and this first person is not a disinterested observer or reliable narrator. Suzy Jackson thus has to give a performance more than a reading. She brings to life Kiernan's sad madwoman, a girl bright, curious, imaginative, quirky, usually frightened, eventually brave. She handles the inevitable psychotic-off-her-meds scene in a way that fills the listener, who by now should love the girl if he/she has a heart, with concern and dread. Gaiman made a good choice in Suzy.
This novel reads like a work created as part of a Creative Writing course; pretentious and self-conscious.
Reams and reams of "what it's *really* like to have a mental illness" stream-of-consciousness style.
Perhaps if you're an avid reader of Nexus magazine, or if you're really into mediocre Symbolist Art, or perhaps even enjoy obsessive tangental list-making, you may find this riveting.
I only kept listening out of a perverse interest to see if it could get any worse;
As an Australian accustomed to English pronunciation of words I found some American pronunciations particularly jarring, and her characterisation of the girlfriend was just woeful.
Now I'm wise to the fact that an imprimatur from Neil Gaiman is no guarantee of quality!
The synopsis of this book sounded very interesting. But I started to fall asleep as soon as I started listening. I got 5 hours into it and just crashed. The story is too slow to start and the narrator spends an ungodly amount of time explaining how crazy, she, herself is. Two hours of explaining her crazy! After 5 hours I have no idea where the story is going, what it is really about or why I should care about anyone in it. It rambles and rambles and rambles. I simply cannot believe it was nominated for a Nebula Award. I would like to know if anything actually happens in the book so I'll get a paper copy from the library so that I can skip through all the tripe and get to the end. Dreadful book.
I live in Beijing and am thoroughly addicted to Audio Books.
High up the list.
I've never read anything like it. I think Kiernan has created something wholly individual that is part reality, part myth, deeply personal, and entirely true.
No I haven't, but I would love to.
When Imp is describing how she first saw the drowning girl painting in the museum, and I felt as if I was sitting on the bench beside her.
Listen to this book! Let the story suck you in and flow over you like a cool river. I loved listening to this book and how the story unfolded in the very unique brain of the character Imp as she fights to understand what is real, and what is the creation of her mind. This book will make you laugh, cry, and be so very glad you gave it a chance.
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. Probably because I enjoyed discussing aspects of the book in a group setting more than I enjoyed the actual book.
So what sort of book is it?
Well it might be a ghost story. It may have some horror elements. It might be factual - or it might just be true... or both or neither. Do I sound like a crazy person? That's because this book is told in the first person by someone who considers themselves insane - though her psychiatrist doesn't like using that word. In fact the whole book could be considered part of India Morgan Phelp's or Imp's therapy. She then proceeds to tell her story of how she is haunted by a painting. Or it might be her telling of her descent into the abyss of madness. Either way the reader is transported into the mind of a "crazy" person who recounts the events of her haunting in non linear fashion.
Part of the story is how she met a woman named Eva Canning - but she has two different versions of her first encounter with Eva - One that takes place in July and one in November - both accounts she insist are true. And away we go down the rabbit hole. We also get a couple of short stories that Imp recounts writing - one about a mermaid and one about a wolf or werewolf - but both these stories flow into her "reality" and become part of her haunting. It's then up to the reader to try and disassemble the story to try and decide if any part of it is true or if none of it is true or whatever. In that regard it's a little like Among Others - even though unlike this book I didn't finish that story.
One of the things I could relate to personally in the story was how mental illness affects the lives of family and friends who have to watch the person they love breaking down. The anger, the frustration, the lack of understanding, the feeling of helplessness the grieving. I have a sister who went through a breakdown in her teens and things were pretty intense for a while.
The thing I had trouble relating to was the gender issues of Imp's transgender lover, Abelyn. It's just too foreign to my own way of thinking and a little uncomfortable to read - but I could relate to Abelyn's response to Imp's mental illness and while it's easy to judge some of Abelyn's reactions and decisions in that regard...I get it.
Though the surreal experience and mystery of the book appealed to me initially, the novelty wore off. I found myself in a place where I trusted nothing in the narrative nor believed that this would change and as such found myself becoming disinterested in the story. So I probably wasn't paying attention as much as I should have been. The end does have a twist that caused me to question my previous assumptions of the story but I hadn't been paying enough attention to get the full impact. Perhaps I would benefit from a reread.
I listened to this on Audible and the narrator Suzy Jackson was a good choice for the audio I think. Very easy to listen to.
I cannot recommend this work. A tedious and plodding story that failed to catch my interest, told in a monotonous tone. Not one for a long drive, or even a short one on a straight road.
I found this to be a challenging story to follow. I enjoyed the narration immensely but needed to relax into the non linear structure. The one thing I can recommend when listening to this is just to go with it. Don't try to figure out what is real, what is truth or what is fact; just follow IMP on her journey.
It was boring.
Nothing, it wasn't her fault it was a bad book.
No, but it wasn't the narrator
All of them
The beginning of the story was very interesting, but I felt it died in the middle and just got weird and didn't go anywhere. Waste of time!
i like to read. i like to listen.
i really wanted to love this book. i set myself up to rave about it....but i just can't. based on all the reviews i have read (here, on goodreads and otherwise), this book seemed to have all the makings of a story i would love. fantasy, female narrator, gothic horror and the promise of an incredibly talented author.
Caitlin Kiernan is a talented author. this much is true. there are words and paragraphs and portions of this novel that are so beautifully written they begged to be framed as art. but then there were parts that were so...so...hmmm.
let me try to explain.
Imp could be an interesting narrator, but the fact that you never quite know (because of her schizophrenia) what is reality and what is fiction gets quite tiresome very quickly in this novel...an element that never sat right with me -- and never gets resolved. the novel ends in ambiguity with more questions than answers...and not that i need a neat and tidy ending, but i would like to feel some sort of resolution or growth or something that makes me feel like the book ended where it should have ended.
some of Imp's ramblings are so difficult to pick apart and understand, it is frustrating. i dont want to be tired after reading a novel. not to say i don't like reading a difficult book. look at how American Gods left me...thats a difficult book that i found immensely satisfying. but this book felt like all work with no payoff. again, i just felt that i was left with nothing at the end. just confusion and sadness and i was actually rather annoyed. maybe if i had read the physical book instead of listening to this it would have been more manageable?
final note -- no real likeable characters in this. including Imp. i wanted so much to like her. really i did. but i just couldn't.
there is a lot of folk lore and fairy tale in this book, which i did enjoy...but as i said, those portions were few and far between, and couldn't hold the rest of the book up on their unsteady stilts.
Although the book intentionally blurs the line between what is subjective, and what is objective, the book is written as a first-hand account of experiences. In the writing style adopted by the author, the mental ticks and potholes of a mentally disturbed individual truly comes through.
Not surprising that this was written by the same author as The Red Tree.