Caitlín R. Kiernan, ‘Charcloth, Firesteel and Flint’ (2011)

A woman (spirit? Salamander in human form? Even she isn’t sure) who has an affinity for fire hitches a ride with Billy to a motel somewhere off the Interstate. All her talk is of fire, and Billy will see plenty of that when they reach their destination. Like King’s story, this starts with a conversation between two people and leads up to a supernatural denouement; Kiernan’s tale doesn’t quite get under the skin as much as King’s, but it has greater consistency between beginning and end, and rounds off with a neat little twist.

Rating: ***

Caitlín R. Kiernan’s website


  1. I’ve read enough of Kiernan’s works to know she is a great writer who is not for me. That said, I think she is stronger with short stories than novels.

  2. David Hebblethwaite

    5th October 2011 at 2:32 pm

    This was the first time I’d read anything by her, but I have heard very good things about her work.

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