Vampires in the Lemon Grove (Knopf) by Karen Russell is a collection of delightfully weird short stories that questions the normal.
Each of the eight stories has an uncanny or supernatural premise mixed with black comedy: vampires suck lemons instead of blood to survive, enslaved Japanese girls metamorphose into silk worms, a teenager finds a prophetic seagull’s nest, a pioneer boy meets a strange man in a blizzard, American presidents are reincarnated as horses, a man gives advice for throwing an Antarctic tailgate party for the yearly whale versus krill deathmatch, another man’s tattoo changes each time his masseuse touches it, and a scarecrow effigy haunts a group of bullies.
Russell is like a funny Flannery O’Connor, expertly blending humour and horror into a new take on the Southern Gothic genre. Her writing is clear and clever, and, in places, causes laughter and goosebumps on the same page.
Vampires in the Lemon Grove offers a twisted perspective of the world that creates strange and entertaining insights into the ordinary and the paranormal.