Another exceptional collection from Karen Heuler, a fantastic writer — and writer of the fantastic — whom I wish more people were reading. If you like the short fiction of Kelly Link, Robert Shearman, and Helen Marshall, I think you’ll really enjoy Heuler’s work as well. Her stories are whimsical, surreal, and flavored with a sense of humor that often masks something dark hiding beneath.
The nineteen stories in THE CLOCKWORM AND OTHER STRANGE STORIES include some of Heuler’s best work yet. My favorite among them is probably “Figaro, Figueroa,” in which an author becomes obsessively jealous when two of her fictional characters get together romantically. It may sound like a comical premise, but it’s actually one of the darkest stories in the collection. Because it’s more to my taste, I find myself drawn to Heuler’s other dark stories as well, like “The Reordering of Tonia Vivian,” in which a young girl forms a competitive relationship with the unborn twin she absorbed in utero, and “The People in the Mirror,” which, at least structurally, is the most like a classic horror story, focusing on one family’s descent into madness and tragedy, ostensibly because of a cursed mirror.
I own the Tartarus Press hardcover edition, which is beautifully produced and printed on high-quality paper, but it’s also quite expensive. A much cheaper e-book edition is currently available, and I hope there will be a reasonably priced paperback edition soon, so that more readers can experience the magic of Heuler’s stories. After working quietly and steadily in the science fiction and fantasy genres for decades, mostly under the radar, she’s an author who deserves your attention.