Short Story Review: “The Peddler’s Tale, or Isobel’s Revenge” by Caitlin R. Kiernan

2 of 5 stars.

Drawing from Lovecraft’s mythos which includes realms disinterested from that of humans and Earth, this tale centers on an Underrealm of ghouls of half-ghouls. The politics and prophesies of that realm would sit as easily in human history.

The tale, told by a peddler, emerges as a folktale with a suggestion of history, albeit a history from a different realm. Plot and tension are glossed over in favor of info-dumps of the rules and politics of the Lovecraftian mythos. It has potential to be an epic tale in that it centers around a ruling couple of half-ghouls that are also twins. Their rise to power had been prophesied, so too had the king’s undoing by his eldest daughter. To eliminate the threat, he makes plans to have his sister killed while still pregnant with his heir. One of his advisers holds loyalty to the queen and aids in her escape to the Upper Realm [that of humans] where the daughter can be born . . .

This tale appears in the New Lovecraftian anthology, The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu edited by Paula Guran. I received my copy of the anthology directly from Prime Books. I’ve previously read Kiernan’s:
     “The Bone’s Prayer”–3 stars
     “Bridle”–4 stars
     “The Cats of River Street (1925)”–5 stars
     “The Mermaid of the Concrete Ocean”–4 stars
     “The Transition of Elizabeth Haskings”–5 stars
[Check out my other reviews here.]

One response to “Short Story Review: “The Peddler’s Tale, or Isobel’s Revenge” by Caitlin R. Kiernan

  1. Pingback: Short Story Review: “The Maltese Unicorn” by Caitlin R. Kiernan | Jaffalogue

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