The Splendid City (Paperback)
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A genre-blending story of modern witchcraft, a police state and WTF characters, for fans of Alice Hoffman and Madeline Miller.
In the state of Liberty, water is rationed at alarming prices, free speech is hardly without a cost, and Texas has just declared itself its own country. In this society, paranoia is well-suited because eyes and ears are all around, and they are judging. Always judging. This terrifying (and yet somehow vaguely familiar) terrain is explored via Eleanor – a young woman eagerly learning about the gifts of her magic through the support of her coven.
But being a white witch is not as easy as they portray it in the books, and she’s already been placed under ‘house arrest’ with a letch named Stan, a co-worker who wronged her in the past and now exists in the form of a cat. A talking cat who loves craft beers, picket lines, and duping and ‘shooting’ people.
Eleanor has no time for Stan and his shenanigans, because she finds herself helping another coven locate a missing witch which she thinks is mysteriously linked to the shortage of water in Liberty.
File Under: Fantasy [ Liberty for All | Water is Beautiful | Eyes Everywhere | Stanning for Stan ]
About the Author
KAREN HEULER is a literary sci-fi/fantasy author. Her stories have appeared in over a hundred literary and speculative magazines and anthologies such as Conjunctions to Tin House and Weird Tales. She has received an O. Henry award, been a finalist for the Iowa short fiction award, the Bellwether award, the Shirley Jackson award for short fiction, among others. She has published four novels, four story collections and a novella. She also teaches fiction writing at NYU’s School of Professional Studies.
"A sharp, lively, funny contemporary fantasy with the feel of an up-to-date, more adult version of L Frank Baum’s Oz books."
– The Guardian
"Karen Heuler’s The Splendid City is a wonderful fabulation, both humorous and contemplative, about the desperate state of US politics and society. In this world without a moral center, Eleanor, a witch, and her black cat familiar, Stan, who walks on two legs and packs a gun, much like Behemoth from Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, are called to solve a mystery. The writing is engaging and smooth, with excellent banter, as the communal power of women works to find a purpose in a crazy world."
– Jeffrey Ford, author of Big Dark Hole
"A thoroughly original and quirky novel. You'll find witches, cats, animatronic politicians and much more besides - plus sinister undertones combined with laugh-out-loud surrealism."
—Liz Williams, author of Comet Weather
"Karen Heuler's soaring imagination is matched only by her integrity of vision and humanity. She's always a must read."
– Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World and The Pallbearers Club
"A sly and wild and funny book which uses witches, talking robotic heads, water shortages, the internet, a revolution, and a cat who used to be human (and who is now pretending to be a human with a skin condition) to cheerfully dissect the travails of what it is like to live in contemporary America. Satirical, and yet somehow more than just a satire, the joy of The Splendid City lies in the quirky and all-embracing exuberance of Heuler's imagination."
– Brian Evenson, World Fantasy Award winner of Song for the Unraveling of the World
"With its whimsy, compassionate characterizations, and sly satire, The Splendid City recalls the best of Terry Pratchett. A delight from start to finish."
– Gregory Norman Bossert, filmmaker, writer and World Fantasy Award winner
"The Splendid City is a splendid read indeed! How can anyone resist talking cats? I know I can’t. This novel is so much fun and yet there is a deeper, darker story here. Seriously, the best political fiction sneaks its way into our hearts and minds rather than hitting us on top of our heads. Heuler’s excellent imagination and biting humor brings it all together.
– Ann VanderMeer, Award Winning Editor of The Big Book of Modern Fantasy
"It might seem impossible to see the humor in the nightmarish absurdities, disinformation, paranoia, and fanaticism of contemporary life... but Karen Heuler's specialty is accomplishing the impossible. In a world filled with malevolent surveillance drones and animatronic President heads, a gun-toting cat with a hair-trigger temper and a witch with an inconvenient penchant for the truth have to contend with a reality that makes them look sensible by comparison. Pre-order this book immediately. It is a joy."
– Chandler Klang Smith, author of The Sky Is Yours
"A fun, whimsical, fantastical satire that rips open the absurdity of everything yet still somehow manages to leave the beating heart intact."
– Yume Kitasei, author of The Narrow Road to the Deep Sky
"Whimsical, satiric, and bursting with imagination, The Splendid City is the novel we've all been waiting for from Karen Heuler, one that takes all the ingredients she's honed over decades of publishing quality literary and fantasy fiction and distills it into a perfect nugget of a novel. I've long thought Heuler deserved a larger audience, and this funny, accessible novel should be what finally draws them in. Also, as a cat owner, I felt a lot of this deep in my soul!"
– Nicholas Kaufmann, bestselling author of The Hungry Earth
"It's a novel that weaves its own logic and ends up making a lot of sense."
– SFX Magazine
"Both sad and hilarious, by mixing the madness of our modern-day political landscape with the fantasy rules of witchcraft, The Splendid City crafts a perfect quirk that ramps to wtf levels of genre-bending weirdness while packing enough common sense and humour to deliver something meaningful in a story about a white witch and her human-cat that shoots old ladies who disagree with him at the bus stop."
"The dialogue is clever and the satire spot-on. The social commentary hits the nail on the head."
"loved how cleverly and deftly Heuler balanced the absurd with the political."
– Locus Magazine
"The Splendid City is a compelling book, compulsively readable."
– Grimdark Magazine