Daria is a jaded musician/barista; her bandmate and boyfriend Keith struggles with drug abuse; Niki is running from the trauma of her best friend killing himself; Spyder, an eccentric shop owner with a troubled past, is the glue that binds them together. Plus there are spiders. Monstrous spiders.
The book was published in 1998, the height of goth fashion. I was fifteen at the time, and my recent reading of Silk brought me right back there. I was friends with stoner musicians and goths (and not long from realizing consciously that I was attracted to women), and the book is very evocative for me. Kiernan gives each character unique human touches, even the supernatural Spyder. Each character is believable, though some of the less important characters, like Mort, are less interesting than others. Even though much of the book takes place from Daria’s perspective, I didn’t particularly enjoy her; to me she’s shrill and obnoxious—but I still cared what happened to her.
Kiernan skillfully builds suspense by gradually introducing the horror instead of throwing it right out. It lurks in the shadows, out of the corner of your eye. Characters start hallucinating horrible things that can’t be seen overtly. But when Kiernan does trot out the big scares, like spider attacks en masse, she excels at that too. At the same time the book is a study in loss and trauma and finding love in the face of life’s unfairness. All of the characters are miserable, but they love each other and they keep going.
As for the LGBT factor, Kiernan is a transsexual, and a few characters are gay; in addition, Niki comes across as heterosexual at first but has a love affair with a woman.
In case my word isn’t good enough for you, Silk received rave reviews from royalty such as Clive Barker, Poppy Z. Brite, Neil Gaiman, and Peter Straub. Check it out if you’re in the mood for something intense and creepy. With hot girl-girl action.