I am excited to host a spot on Kathe Koja’s THE CIPHER blog tour, with a giveaway, guest post from the author, and my own mini-review of the book.
First, my take on the book: I was blown away by her talent, her writing style and voice are stunning. Her mastery of the language, especially the rhythm of her writing, puts her in complete control of how I experienced the story. This novel is bleak and isn’t for the faint of heart. I was both grossed out and depressed by the story, yet not surprised at how these characters interacted with a strange hole in a storage room in their apartment building. Their journey and the outcome felt horribly inevitable. It was hard to read, but impossible to put down: kind of like being on a runaway train that you know is going to crash but you can’t get off because you need to know just how badly it will end. I highly recommend it for readers who love psychological horror with HEA endings: Hellishly Every After.
We asked Kathe Koja to name some up and coming authors she is excited about and here is what she had to say:
Instead of a list, I’m concentrating on one new writer, because I always read for voice, and when I find a voice that I love, I’ll follow it everywhere it goes. It’s such a thrill to watch a writer’s voice bloom, then grow, to see how her skills develop and her imagination shines, and speculate on where she might lead her readers next.
The book I’m most excited about this fall is Maryse Meijer’s gorgeous The Seventh Mansion, just out from FSG Originals. A novel, a love story between two simpatico outsider hearts, a meditation on the ways humans live with, and abuse, the earth and its other inhabitants, this book is sui generis, and unforgettable.
Meijer’s first book, a short fiction collection, Heartbreaker, gave notice that hers was a byline to follow. Her attack is deceptively calm, no matter how much pain is on the page, how much anger, blood, or glee, and the short story format serves her very well. Her second collection, Rag, brought a harder edge to her stories, a bleaker, drier shadow, but without any sacrifice of vision or empathy. And who else would have the imagination, or bravery, tell a story from the POV of an actual cloth rag?
One thing Meijer’s work always has is that bravery: she’s not afraid to take chances or leaps in format. Northwood, published between the two fiction collections, is technically a novella, is also poetry, is also a cautionary fable, is full of pleasure and violence, and silence; it is in some ways the most quiet of her books, the way a flooded path is quiet, you have no idea how deep you’ll go until you take the step. Northwood was also created as an art objet, using the talents of designer Jonathan Yamakami and artist Rufus Newell.
The last piece of Meijer’s writing I’ve read is her heartfelt and perceptive afterword for The Cipher, the reprint of my seminal first novel, out from Meerkat Press. She was a reader of mine before I was a reader of hers, so that adds an extra layer of interest and thrill for me when I read her work today. And years and years from now, I have no doubt that some fierce and wonderful new writer will be writing an afterword to The Seventh Mansion, explaining its lasting influence on her, on him, on them.
THE CIPHER by Kathe Koja
Winner of the Bram Stoker Award and Locus Awards, finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award, and named one of io9.com’s “Top 10 Debut Science Fiction Novels That Took the World By Storm.” With a new afterword by Maryse Meijer, author of Heartbreaker and Rag.
“Black. Pure black and the sense of pulsation, especially when you look at it too closely, the sense of something not living but alive.” When a strange hole materializes in a storage room, would-be poet Nicholas and his feral lover Nakota allow their curiosity to lead them into the depths of terror. “Wouldn’t it be wild to go down there?” says Nakota. Nicholas says, “We’re not.” But no one is in control, and their experiments lead to obsession, violence, and a very final transformation for everyone who gets too close to the Funhole.
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