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Extended Audio Sample Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories, by Karen Russell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,286 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Karen Russell Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From the author of the New York Times bestseller Swamplandia!, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, comes a magical new collection of stories that showcases Karen Russell’s gifts at their inimitable best.

A dejected teenager discovers that the universe is communicating with him through talismanic objects left behind in a seagull’s nest. A community of girls held captive in a silk factory slowly transmute into human silkworms, spinning delicate threads from their own bellies, and escape by seizing the means of production for their own revolutionary ends. A massage therapist discovers she has the power to heal by manipulating the tattoos on a war veteran’s lower torso. When a group of boys stumble upon a mutilated scarecrow bearing an uncanny resemblance to the missing classmate they used to torment, an ordinary tale of high school bullying becomes a sinister fantasy of guilt and atonement. In a family’s disastrous quest for land in the American West, the monster is the human hunger for acquisition, and the victim is all we hold dear. And in the collection’s marvelous title story, an unforgettable parable of addiction and appetite, mortal terror and mortal love, two vampires in a sun-drenched lemon grove try helplessly to slake their thirst for blood.

Karen Russell is one of today’s most celebrated and vital writers, honored in the New Yorker’s list of the twenty best writers under the age of forty, Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists, and the National Book Foundation’s five best writers under the age of thirty-five. Her wondrous new work displays a young writer of superlative originality and invention coming into the full range and scale of her powers.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Hilarious, exquisite, first-rate…A grim, stupendous, unfavorable magic is at work in these stories.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Each story is more inventive than the last, juxtaposing mundane human experiences and profound questions about consciousness, love, and mortality, with a hint of the supernatural…As Russell’s imagination soars, so does our joy in reading this collection.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Delightfully bizarre…bone-chilling…fantasy and horror underlined with social commentary.”


  • “In these tales [Russell] combines careful research with minutely imagined details and a wonderfully vital sleight of hand to create narratives that possess both the resonance of myth and the immediacy of something new.”

    New York Times

  • “Exquisitely peculiar…[Vampires in the Lemon Grove] trades in the mythological waters of the Florida Everglades for eight new, but still darkly fantastical and dangerous worlds that constantly remind the reader that monsters and violence are always around the corner, and in ourselves.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Beautiful tales…Vampires in the Lemon Grove should cement Russell’s reputation as one of the most remarkable fantasists writing today.”

    Washington Post

  • “A force to behold…Russell establishes herself as a writer to track and to treasure.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Astonishing…Vampires in the Lemon Grove stands out as Russell’s best book…with prose so alive it practically back-flips off the page.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “A master of magical realism…There is an exuberance to [Russell’s] descriptive abilities, a kind of ludic writerly joy in the process that translates to a readerly thrill in the results.”

    New York Observer

  • “A darkly surreal treat.”


  • “Wildly inventive…wondrously strange and moving.”

    Reader’s Digest

  • “Delightfully weird…moving.”


  • “Powerful…Russell pulls the rug out on our imagination, creating perplexing, surreal scenarios that bump into the common reality that most of us take for granted.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “One of the most innovative, inspired short-story collections in the past decade…Vampires in the Lemon Grove is flawless and magnificent, and there’s absolutely no living author quite like Karen Russell.”


  • “If Vampires in the Lemon Grove is an indicator of the future, Russell’s stories will be seizing our imaginations—and nibbling at the edges of our nightmares—for years to come.”

    Miami Herald

  • “Witty, and wise, and brimming with vitality…In Russell’s stories, malice strolls with morality, horror tangos with humor, and the spirits of Franz Kafka and Flannery O’Connor meet with unexpected comity.”

    Richmond Times-Dispatch

  • “Wildly imaginative…gorgeous…Russell has once again mapped the dark country between our everyday and more primal selves.”

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

  • “The stories in Karen Russell’s wonderful collection embrace the monstrous, the mutant, the mysterious…the stories—even the frothiest—are sea deep, scary smart, richly inventive, highly illuminating, and gorgeously written.”


  • “Karen Russell’s stories defy definition. They are at once warm and sinister, a bubble bath with a shark fin lurking underneath the suds.”  


  • “Wildly inventive.”


  • “It’s difficult to think of another writer working today who has Russell’s talent for gorgeous, risky prose and a seemingly endless arsenal of odd, inventive narratives. Give her a setting and she’ll grow beautiful monsters in [a] brilliantly described ecosystem.”


  • “Russell’s great gift…is her ability to create whole landscapes and lifetimes of strangeness within the confines of a short story.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Reading Vampires in the Lemon Grove is like taking off on a round-the-universe trip, each story a new adventure where the usual rules don’t apply…What Russell is doing doesn’t yet have a name. And that is why her work is so wonderful.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “The offbeat lusciousness of [Swamplandia] seems to be repeated in Russell’s new story collection…Don’t miss [it].” 

    Library Journal

  • “Excellent…It’s a strange compliment, but a genuine one, to say that Russell’s imagination really is capable of inducing nausea and terror.”

    Barnes & Noble, editorial review

  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for February 2013
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • Selected for the February 2013 Indie Next List
  • A Huffington Post Best Book of 2013
  • A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
  • A 2013 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction
  • A 2013 Boston Globe Book of the Year for Best Fiction
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2013
  • A San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller of 2013 for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Rachel | 2/16/2014

    " I will say this...there were some stories in this collection i absolutely loved. I wish I had the creativity to come up with scenarios such as these. However, there were a couple i just couldn't get into. I'm sure it is a personal preference and I wish I could give this a 3.5 rating. The stories were wonderfully written but it was a personal taste that didn't let me fully enjoy some of them. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Amy | 2/3/2014

    " Excellent stories -- if it wasn't the beautiful writing that got me and the matter-of-fact melancholy of the stories, it was the fact that 11 presidents had been resurrected as horses in a field or a man was rooting for Team Krill against Team Whale in an Antarctic tailgate party. I will never look at the word cetaceous again without a giggle. While not every story was a five, the collection as a whole definitely is. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Cheryl Hoover | 2/3/2014

    " I love short story collections and this is a doozy. Karen Russell has a singular voice and I like her twist to plot and character. The book died painless with me, I enjoyed it very much. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Andrew | 1/19/2014

    " I think there's too much hype for this book. It's pretty good but it's not groundbreaking. "

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