On Strong Beach, an awkward teen with a terrible haircut has a reversal of fortune when he finds artefacts from the future lining a seagulls’ nest. By the Hox River in Nebraska, a window fuels both family pride and deadly revenge. In a godforsaken barn in what they suspect is Kentucky, Presidents Eisenhower, John Adams and Rutherford B. Hayes are bemused to find themselves reincarnated as horses. And in the collection’s title story, Clyde and Magreb – he a traditional capes-and-coffins vampire, she the more progressive variety – settle in an Italian lemon grove in the hope that its ripe fruit will keep their thirst for blood at bay.
Karen Russell is an audacious talent with a wicked sense of humour, and this hotly anticipated new collection confirms her place as a master of the short story form, and one of the most imaginative young writers at work today.
"This is not exactly the fantastic made realistic or the realistic fantastic. It's a story sure of itself in the frolic of its strangeness. Fiction is by definition unreal, and Russell takes this coldly awesome truth and enjoys fully the rebel freedom it confers...but Russell is no coy or mannered mistress of the freaky. Much of the pleasure in reading her comes from the wily freshness of her language and the breezy nastiness of her observations... her work has a velocity and a trajectory that is little less than dazzling and a tough, enveloping, exhilarating voice that cannot be equalled." - Joy Williams, The New York Times Book Review
"Ms. Russell deftly combines elements of the weird and supernatural with acute psychological realism; elements of the gothic with dry, contemporary humour... she has fashioned a quirky, textured voice that is thoroughly her own: by turns lyrical and funny, fantastical and meditative... In these tales Mrs. Russell combines careful research (into, say, a legend, a historical episode or a tradecraft) with minutely imagined details and a wonderfully vital sleight of hand to create narratives that possess both the resonance of myth and the immediacy of something new." - Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Karen Russell's third book, the story collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove, should cement her reputation as one of the most remarkable fantasists writing today... exquisite precision and conflation of the commonplace with the marvelous is a hallmark of Russell's prose style, infusing her work with a sense of the uncanny that keeps a reader off balance right until the last sentence... Russell carefully constructs a world that is recognizably our own, then reveals the terrible abyss of human yearning and human evil that lies beneath it." - Elizabeth Hand, The Washington Post
"The premises of Russell's stories are astonishingly imaginative, but her prose is so beautiful and assured, it's easy for the reader.. It's a testament to Russell's emotional maturity and originality - there are no obvious antecedents to her work besides, perhaps, Flannery O'Connor - that she's able not only to pull these stories off, but to do so with such seemingly effortless beauty. Vampires in the Lemon Grove is flawless and magnificent, and there's absolutely no living author quite like Karen Russell." - Michael Schaub, NPR Books
"A consistently arresting, frequently stunning collection...Even more impressive than Russell's critically acclaimed novel." - Kirkus Reviews
"Russell can take Antarctic tailgaters, an army of seagulls or simply a window and twist a tale that explodes on the page and lingers in the mind." - Fiona Wilson, The Times)
"A touch of paradoxically grounding pixie humour. This way of writing is so clever that nothing needs to be added to the set-up… These stories have unbelievable strength." - M John Harrison, Guardian