Speaking to Skull Kings--NOW AVAILABLE


Emily's first fiction collection is now available from the publisher JournalStone! The collection includes twelve short stories, ten of them previously published, four of them featured on year's best longlists, two of them brand new to the collection, all of them featuring some combination of ghosts and weird girls and creepy magic and old Europe and winter and loss and bad choices. 

Here's what other people are saying about the collection:

  • Mentioned in the introduction to Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018, by John Joseph Adams

  • "Very rarely will you meet an imagination as potent and far-reaching as Emily Cataneo's.  It startles and amazes.  Yet every fine-cut gem of a story presented here is firmly grounded in the human experience, in tenderness and yearning, in humor and heartache.  You'll want to stop and savor each and every one.  This is unique fantasy, fresh, gripping and brilliantly realized." -- Jack Ketchum, Bram Stoker-award winner

  • "Cataneo’s dark, weird, and fantastical stories defy easy description, bending history and reality and old fairytales into new shapes. There’s the Russian revolution – but skewed as if seen through a magical lens. There’s France – but a France where women have wings attached to their flesh and bone. There’s old Europe, haunted by an ominous Dark, where the population of a city looks to bird-men for salvation. Cataneo weaves together all these strands of history and magic, horror and fairytale, into something truly unique and captivating." --Maria Haskins

  • "Emily B. Cataneo’s first collection, Speaking to Skull Kings and Other ­Stories is brimming with ghosts, haunted books, alternate ­dimensions, and dark fantasy in an assemblage of lyrical pieces best classified as weird fiction. The complex female characters, creepy settings, and magic-filled story lines draw in readers much like the award-winning works of Karen Russell, Jeff VanderMeer, and Kelly Link. Cataneo provides all the chills and anxiety of horror in every turn of the page without the gore many fear they will encounter when first trying the genre." --Library Journal

  • "This fine collection fits into the weird places in my skull and the dark places in my heart. I adore it. Fans of modern dark fairy tales of the sort that Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link write will enjoy this, as will readers of classic weird fiction who prefer the work of Robert Chambers and Charlotte Perkins Gilman over that of Lovecraft. Cataneo has filtered the classics through her own sensibilities to create vivid stories of ghosts and other lost souls." --Lucy Snyder, Bram Stoker award winner

  • "Emily Cataneo's debut collection is a stunning marker of her talent to charm, horrify, and make the ordinary wondrous, sometimes all at once. These stories soar." --Christopher Barzak, author of Wonders of the Invisible World

  • “Elegantly composed, Speaking to Skull Kings and Other Stories is a literary dance. Cataneo pulls you in close, whispering song in your ear, twirling you round one story to the next in an embrace as tight as her prose. Not until you finish the final dance and she pulls away with her words do you realize you'd left the ground awhile, that she'd ripped the wings off your back in order to bring you back down, to let you go. This debut fiction collection is magical, enticing, and leaves you wanting those bloodied hands to lead just one more time.” – Michael Bailey, Bram Stoker Award winning editor of The Library of the Dead, and author of Psychotropic Dragon.

  • "Speaking to Skull Kings" is a remarkable debut foretelling the rise of an original, imaginative writer who will be a force to reckon with in years to come." -- Usman T. Malik, Nebula finalist

The back-cover blurb:

A ballet dancer can’t escape an unwanted suitor—even after death. Three sisters live by a strict etiquette book in an abandoned house, until one of them starts to question why. Two children venture into the treacherous forest to find their missing bird-guardian. A magician struggles to find a cure for the plague descending on her city before it’s too late.

Emily B. Cataneo’s debut fiction collection is rife with the decayed grandeur of old Europe, girls who love and loathe ghosts, and magic that comes with a price. These stories, many of which have appeared on year’s best longlists, span the gamut from soft science fiction to noir, to high fantasy and everything in between. They unfold in settings rendered both beautiful and sinister: a wintry post-Revolution Russia, a gossipy New England town, a lonely bathhouse where robots go to die.

As the characters in these tales live out their lives, from childhood to death and beyond, they search for meaning, connection, and safety, struggling to transcend their circumstances and ultimately grappling with the question: how far will they go to escape?

You can order the book here

And review it on Goodreads here

And on Amazon here.