Five of Cups

Five of Cups

Illustration By Rick Lieder

Dust jacket by Rick Lieder

This is three-time IHG award-winning author Caitlin R. Kiernan's long unpublished, "lost" first novel. The manuscript was completed early in 1993 (with some notes and fragments for the book dating back to Kiernan's high school days). The Five of Cups was lauded by numerous established horror authors, landed Kiernan her first agent, was the subject of a 1996 Writer's Digest interview, and was even sold, but never published. Why? As the author says, "It's a long story."

The Five of Cups attempts to blend the two dominant subgenres of the contemporary vampire tale, crossing the historical Gothic with the gritty, urban realism of "splatterpunk." Grounded in the squalor of street-life in Atlanta in the early 1990s, but with an epic scope that encompasses the Irish famine of 1847, a yellow-fever epidemic in 1853 New Orleans, and the Union assault on Atlanta in 1864, Kiernan describes the novel as an "overly-ambitious jumble of competing ideas and subplots, trying to unite vampirism, the grail myth, the tarot, T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, and the Arthuriad into a single, coherent storyline."

Though Kiernan has been privately offered as much as $500 for manuscript copies of the novel and major publishers continue to express interest in the work, she has refused to allow its release until now. The Five of Cups will be published solely as a limited edition, the author providing an extensive introduction relating to the genesis, history, and her present feelings about the book. The Five of Cups allows us a rare glimpse into the mind of one of dark fantasy's most important and celebrated voices at a formative stage in her career.

The Subterranean Press edition will be the only edition published and will include the following:

  • The original introduction, written by Poppy Z. Brite in 1996.
  • A lengthy new introduction by the author.
  • A 1999 essay on The Five of Cups written by Kiernan for her newsletter, Salmagundi.
  • Facsimiles of original notes, outlines, correspondence, rejection slips, photos, and fragments from Kiernan's files and notebooks.

"Caitlin Kiernan's The Five of Cups is a clamorous riot of a book: vivid, violent and viperish. It has that precious raw power which the best first novels always have, uncalmed by dulling practice and uninhibited by censorious wariness." --Brian Stableford

"If you have no appetite for bland, 'likable' characters -- if the suburban protagonists of countless paperback horror novels reflect none of your experiences or desires -- if you want to crawl inside the heads of predators and savor the dark excesses there -- in short, if you still long for the awe inspired by a tale larger and stranger than the sum of its parts on the page, then you will treasure the work of Caitlin R. Kiernan. She writes from a place you and I cannot imagine. The fact that she allows you to experience this place through fiction does not mean she will compromise to suit your tastes or coddle your fears." -- Poppy Z. Brite, from the "Introduction" for The Five of Cups

Limited: 1000 signed hardcover copies, bound in full cloth
Lettered: 52 signed copies, housed in a handcrafted traycase, with additional material not in the limited

Rick Lieder
Poppy Z. Brite
362 pages
United States
Out of Print