A corker from an Irish-born paleontologist and dark-fiction author (Silk, not reviewed).
Chance Matthews’s parents died in a car crash in which Chance herself was injured, and her grandmother, a retired paleontologist, hanged herself when Chance was 15. When her grandfather, a geologist with whom she lives outside Birmingham, Alabama, dies of a heart attack, he leaves behind many bags of uncleaned fossils and minerals. Meanwhile, Chance has found her best friend Elise bedding Chance’s boyfriend Deacon, and Elise, pleading narcotically diminished responsibility, pills out and slashes her arms from wrist to elbow. Since Kiernan’s prologue sets up the Persephone-in-Tartarus myth, those in the know will wait for a tunnel to hell to appear bearing the darkness of D.H. Lawrence’s “Bavarian Gentians.” All turns on a night Chance, Elise, and Deacon spent in the waterworks tunnel under Red Mountain and Deacon saw something hellacious. Now albino Dancy Flammarion shows up, knowing what Deacon saw, knowing stuff about Chance only Chance knows, and declaring, “I can see monsters.” She senses that Deacon, an alcoholic, has had second sight and the preternatural ability to tell where lost bodies are buried ever since the night when he was working in an Atlanta liquor store and saw a man set himself afire with 151-proof rum. Lost bodies? A hundred years ago workmen found a small white . . . trilobite? monster? . . . in the tunnel under Red Mountain, and Chance’s grandmother preserved half of one in a small jar of alcohol. The horrified workmen bricked up the lower part of the tunnel to keep the unspeakable blocked off. Now that Something from Deep Time has caused countless deaths. But what’s behind that hideous wall, Mr. Lovecraft? What threshold?
Tops in fantasy, with gripping paleontological sidebars. A fancy companion, Trilobite: The Writing of Threshold, will also appear. Well, why not?