A Slice of the Dark
"To say that Karen Heuler's new collection, A Slice of the Dark and Other Stories, is deeply unsettling reveals only a tiny fraction: it is also musical, gorgeous, and uncomfortable. I wasn't familiar with Heuler's work before this, which feels like a huge miss on my part – and yours, if you haven't delved into her catalog and are a fan of the New Weird; of work that tangles inscrutable nature and human foible, à la Jeff VanderMeer; and the magical matter-of-factness of Kelly Link. This oversight is easy to remedy, however, as this excellent collection contains both new and previously published stories, and gives a taste of her range and obsessions."--Locus review
Heuler (The Splendid City) serves up a full spread of eerie treats in this fantastical collection of 16 speculative shorts. In the title story, a piece of cake leads a man to discover that the world is full of lurking shadows that only he can see. For a second course, there's soup: "Bone Broth" follows a waitress who learns her boss is digging up giant bones from the empty lot next door. These tales veer capably from a Brothers Grimm fairy tale vibe ("The Living Wood") to suburban fabulism ("Do Not Open") to deeply philosophical horror-fantasy ("Ghost Mice"), with Heuler's matter-of-fact style grounding each story in a reality readers can recognize—until the creeping feeling that nothing is quite as it should be sets in. Heuler fans won't even mind the reprints: "The Restoration," about a woman tasked with seeding animals and plants throughout a climate-destroyed world; "The Constant Lover," in which a murder doesn't quite stick the first time; and the bittersweet flash story "Unraveling" are all worth another visit. This deliciously unsettling collection will leave readers craving just one more bite. --Publishers Weekly
The Inner City
Heuler's stories dart out at what the world is doing and center on how the individual copes with it. Anything is possible: people breed dogs with humans to create a servant class; beneath one great city lies another city, running it surreptitiously; an employee finds that her hair has been stolen by someone intent on getting her job; strange fish fall from trees and birds talk too much; a boy tries to figure out what he can get when the Rapture leaves good stuff behind. Everything is familiar; everything is different. Behind it all, is there some strange kind of design or merely just the chance to adapt? In Heuler's stories, characters cope with the strange without thinking it's strange, sometimes invested in what's going on, sometimes trapped by it, but always finding their own way in.
The Clockworm and Other Strange Stories
*Publishers Weekly *Starred Review* The 19 effervescent fantasy stories in Heuler's fourth collection (after 2017's In Search of Lost Time) sparkle with wit and imagination. In the title tale, mechanical worms infest time, wreaking havoc that causes the scientists exploring them to age prematurely. "The Lovely Kisselthwist" tells of an insectlike creature whose airborne eggs rampantly catalyze amorous attraction between those exposed to them, between people and inanimate objects, and eventually between heavenly bodies. Though the tone of most of these tales is light and breezy, Heuler invests them with serious subtexts that counter their often comically absurd premises: in "Alien Corn," invading extraterrestrials slowly take over the planet by catering to humanity's fondness for distractions from serious issues; "Egg Island" concerns an evolutionary leap by which humankind and animals slowly begin to incorporate polluting plastic waste into their organic bodies; "Here and There" is a beautifully poignant tale in which society's dismissal of the impossibly complex bridges a young girl constructs in the confines of her miniscule backyard highlights the status quo's undervaluing of ingenuity. Heuler's voice is refreshingly original, and readers will find these stories remarkably inventive and brimming with ideas not found anywhere else in contemporary fantasy fiction.
Life unfolds in strange ways. You may encounter people from your past living in your former apartments, or find you have a penis as you engage in war-dreams, or find a planet filled with ghosts that look exactly like the ghosts back home. Is it possible they are the same as the ghosts back home? Wherever you travel, there are tough decisions to make about the aliens you may have harmed and the aliens who may harm you. Other Places, Karen Heuler's latest story collection, follows travelers as the familiar becomes strange, and the strange becomes life.
The Inner City
"One of the Best Books of 2013"--Publishers Weekly
*Starred Review" Heuler’s stories dart out at what the world is doing and centre on how the individual copes with it. Anything is possible: people breed dogs with humans to create a servant class; beneath one great city lies another city, running it surreptitiously. An employee finds that her hair has been stolen by someone intent on getting her job; strange fish fall from trees and birds talk too much; a boy tries to figure out what he can get when the Rapture leaves good stuff behind. Everything is familiar; everything is different. Behind it all, is there some strange kind of design or merely just the chance to adapt? In Heuler’s
stories, characters cope with the strange without thinking it’s strange, sometimes invested in what’s going on, sometimes trapped by it, but always finding their own way in.
The Other Door
"Haunting and quirky"--The New York Times
Marvelously crafted, slyly sidestepping the reader's expectations, the characters in Karen Heuler's The Other Door respond to the unexpected events in their lives, accepting and then rising to the challenges, no matter how strange. For them, reality requires invention.
In "The Second Coming," the Virgin Mary steps down from her backyard visitations to join the new incarnation of Christ. In "Like a Piston, Like a Flame" a dancer finds a new way to perform after a freak accident destroys her legs, but not her will. The title story, "The Other Door," presents a woman who finds a long- forgotten door in her apartment and upon opening it is led from one surprise to another.
Although many of the stories in The Other Door have qualities reminiscent of traditional fables, they are perhaps more fabulous than fabular. They are contemporary folktales, at times venturing into fantasy while retaining the details of everyday experience and psychological authenticity. As in the best folktales and fables, symbols and suggestions come to life and are often linked to the powers of imagination and memory as a means of reconciling the characters to cycles of life and death.
The Other Door marks the arrival of a writer whose vision is radical, dislocating, and enthralling.