Reviews of dark fiction

The Cipher by Kathe Koja

THE CIPHER! I don’t even know what to say.

I’ve only recently joined the church of Koja. It may not be as big as some, Stephen King’s say, but there are joys to be found in smaller congregations.

This is the story of Nakota and Nicholas who one day found a black hole, named it the funhole, and changed their lives forever. They stuck different things into the hole, (getting uncomfortable yet?), including bugs, a mouse, and then a hand. What happened to these items when they were thrust inside? You’ll have to read this to find out!

I absolutely adore Ms. Koja’s prose, and Joshua Saxon the narrator brought it home with flare. This must not have been an easy performance due to the style of the aforementioned prose-especially in the second half of the book because it’s a stream-of-consciousness narrative. His voicing was phenomenal.

I’m a bit irritated with myself because the few clips I made of the audio that highlighted the prose apparently did not save. There were short, staccato-like descriptions that…stabbed at my heart. Beautiful, honest and evocative words that my brain immediately transferred to a visual-like a direct injection. For instance “…the flat was full of drizzly day.” 7 words that draw a perfect scene. Brief, staccato, BAM: there’s the picture-full and complete.

I could go on and on about this prose but I’ll leave it at what I’ve written. Kathe Koja’s writing probably isn’t for everyone; the reviews seem pretty split on Goodreads. For me, however, I feel like I have been missing out out an author that is perfect for my dark and black heart. I’m on a mission to read everything she’s written. I’m a Koja missionary, baby!

My highest recommendation!

The Cipher
Kathe Koja
Horror
Meerkat Press
9.15.20
Paperback
236
https://amzn.to/3iFejHz

Winner of the Bram Stoker Award and Locus Awards, finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award, and named one of io9.com's "Top 10 Debut Science Fiction Novels That Took the World By Storm." With a new afterword by Maryse Meijer, author of Heartbreaker and Rag. "Black. Pure black and the sense of pulsation, especially when you look at it too closely, the sense of something not living but alive." When a strange hole materializes in a storage room, would-be poet Nicholas and his feral lover Nakota allow their curiosity to lead them into the depths of terror. "Wouldn't it be wild to go down there?" says Nakota. Nicholas says, "We're not." But no one is in control, and their experiments lead to obsession, violence, and a very final transformation for everyone who gets too close to the Funhole.

2 thoughts on “The Cipher by Kathe Koja”

  1. Sounds awesome! Is she the author of Skin? The body horror one? I still haven’t read that one even though I said I wanted to. I’m kinda scared 😧 😂

    1. She IS the author of Skin! Now that I’ve read it, I think The Cipher would be a great place to start with her work. It’s more straight forward than Skin, though it’s still body horror. Just of a different kind.

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