“Vampires in the Lemon Grove” by Karen Russell

Quick Statistics

  • “Vampires in the Lemon Grove” by Karen Russell
  • Fiction Short Stories
  • Read as a physical book as part of the Reading Glasses Postal Book Club.
  • 4/5 stars
  • Finished October 8, 2017

Official Synopsis

From the author of the New York Times best seller Swamplandia!—a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize—a magical new collection of stories that showcases Karen Russell’s gifts at their inimitable best.

In the collection’s marvelous title story, two aging vampires in a sun-drenched Italian lemon grove find their hundred-year marriage tested when one of them develops a fear of flying. In “The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979,” a dejected teenager discovers that the universe is communicating with him through talismanic objects left in a seagull’s nest.

“Proving Up” and “The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis” – stories of children left to fend for themselves in dire predicaments – find Russell veering into more sinister territory, and ultimately crossing the line into full-scale horror. In “The New Veterans,” a massage therapist working with a tattooed war veteran discovers she has the power to heal by manipulating the images on his body.

In all, these wondrous new pieces display a young writer of superlative originality and invention coming into the full range and scale of her powers.

My Thoughts/Summary

I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much out of this. It had a leg up because my lovely bookish friend Sarah is the one who sent this through for the Reading Glasses Postal Book Club. However, I haven’t had the best experiences with short stories collections, I really want to be immersed in a world and find amazing characters and hear amazing stories.

The titular story didn’t convince me. I was worried that I was going to have to kind of force myself through these, but then I was pleasantly surprised. While I wasn’t as much of a fan of some stories, most were extremely engrossing. I felt like I’d fallen into the worlds of these characters. So many of the stories really captivated me, and will stick with me for a while.

I regularly think about the story involving the veteran and the masseuse, and since I’m in a postal book club, I’m lucky to where when I get books, someone else has already written their thoughts. The person who gets the books before me is actually in the military, so her take on this book was pretty amazing. I don’t want to spoil any of the stories for anyone, because they all had beautiful hints of magical realism that even when you begin to expect it, they make you gasp with surprise in the most beautiful way.

This book comes highly recommended by me, as I firmly believe that there is a story in here for everyone, everyone will find one that resonates with them more, and I think that’s beautiful. It really reaffirmed my faith in short stories, and has opened me up to a whole new world. I would like to explore more of Russell’s writing because it’s beautiful and done in a way that makes you forget you’re going to only spend a little bit of time with these characters before giving them away. She gives enough closure in each of these stories, to make you feel settled, if that makes sense.

Follow-Up Links

(this post does contain affiliate links that help me keep the site going. please consider purchasing using these links if you’re interested in this book! thanks so much xo r)

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