And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe: A Literary Showcase of Horror’s Possibilities


Gwendolyn Kiste bookends her short story collection And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe with two pieces written in the second-person. At first glance, the device might appear to work toward a tone of urgency, or a forced closeness between reader and text (and it does both of these things), but the technique works on several other registers, too. Both of these stories, “Something Borrowed, Something Blue” and “The Lazarus Bride,” undergo a complicated study of otherness and self-dissociation (two themes that re-emerge repeatedly throughout the book), all while foregrounding meticulously honed plot momentum and structure. This single example is one among countless demonstrations of Kiste’s heightened literary consciousness; this is an extremely rare breed of fiction debut, whose assuredness, complexity, and above all whose singular perspective suggest a lifetime of practice. Think Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood (1952), Thomas Ligotti’s Songs of a Dead Dreamer (1986), Kathe Koja’s The Cipher (1991), or Clive Barker’s Books of Blood (1985).

Read the full review on Unnerving Magazine‘s website.

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