Friday, September 4, 2015

Review: Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Vampires in the Lemon Grove
By Karen Russell
Vintage January 2014
256 pages
Borrowed from my sister

Vampires in the Lemon Grove: And Other Stories

Short story collections so often leave the reader desiring something more. We love some stories, but find others forgettable. We wish that each story in the collection reached the artistry of our favorite. Readers need not worry about Vampires In The Lemon Grove - every story is incredible and memorable.

These stories are incredibly diverse and each of them has their own brand of creepiness that will make the hair rise up on the back of your arm as you peek behind you to ensure you are still alone. In the first story, we meet an elderly vampire who is not so enamored with living forever after all. He has made a life for himself and his wife in a lemon grove, where they suck lemons instead of drinking blood. We also encounter a girl who begins work in a Japanese silk factory with some terrifying results, a soldier whose tattoo changes to match what he believes about his time in the military, and a boy who deeply regrets his bullying ways after encountering a scarecrow.

Some of the stories read like dark fairy tales, while others seem like historical fiction with a bizarre bent. It's obvious that Russell did a great deal of research on a variety of subjects - early settlers on the prairie, United States presidents, and the habits of various kinds of Antarctic wildlife. It's just enough knowledge to make the reader feel at home wherever and whenever Russell drops us.

We know from childhood that there is something unsettling, perhaps even frightening, about darkness. We root for the hero to defeat the monster and bring the light back. But in Vampires in the Lemon Grove, Karen Russell forces readers to confront some very adult questions about those childhood ghost stories. What if the darkness is not in the monsters, but in us? Is darkness always a bad thing or can our darkness sometimes help us to rise more powerfully than ever before?


  1. Replies
    1. Me too! I enjoy how innocuous the cover is too. It doesn't seem to really indicate the creepy stories inside!

  2. This collection of short stories sounds amazing. I love reading short stories for a number of reasons, but often times some of them do fall to the wayside with one memorable story sticking with you. I'm also partial to short stories of a darker nature. I'll have to pick this up sometime!

    All Things Bookish – Jade Louise

    1. I think there is something great about a short story that ends and leaves you peeking over your shoulder for days. I hope you enjoy these!

  3. I grabbed this one from the library a while back but it went back unread. I'm going to have to borrow it again, because these short stories sound right up my alley.

    1. Too many library books! I sent back Being Mortal without having read it. Thank goodness we can check them out again!

  4. I'm so glad you loved this one! Karen Russell is one of my very favorite authors; St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves is even better, if you can believe it.