Past the Size of Dreaming by Nina Kiriki Hoffman | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
Past the Size of Dreaming

Past the Size of Dreaming

5.0 3
by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
     
 

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The Nebula and World Fantasy Award-nominated author of A Red Heart of Memories continues the spellbinding story of the wandering witch Matilda (Matt) Black, who possesses the ability to communicate with inanimate objects and see into people’s dreamsand her companion Edmund Reynolds, a young man with magic of his own who is only beginning to

Overview

The Nebula and World Fantasy Award-nominated author of A Red Heart of Memories continues the spellbinding story of the wandering witch Matilda (Matt) Black, who possesses the ability to communicate with inanimate objects and see into people’s dreamsand her companion Edmund Reynolds, a young man with magic of his own who is only beginning to come to grips with his past and his powers…

The two travelers have come to the town where Edmund grew up, and found shelter in the benevolently haunted house that was a refuge for Edmund and his friends when they were children. But the house begins to speak to Matt, urgently, telling her that she and Edmund have to leave, to seek out the long-scattered friends. For a darkness is rising, a dangerous, powerful entity. And the only chance of stopping it lies in the hearts of the lost children of the house…

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The New Age-y na vet of the plot and characters, as much as the easy and inexplicable magic, reduce Hoffman's latest to a read for the initiated only. The sexless witch Matilda "Mattie" Black and her magically gifted companion, Edmund Reynolds, who wandered through the Stoker Award-winning A Red Heart of Memories (1999), are now reunited with friends from the past, all squatters in a benignly haunted house. They speak to inanimate objects--garbage cans, automobiles, earth, air, even the house itself. They cast spells and envelope people and objects in nonburning flames. One of the group, Julio, was abducted as a child by a sinister magician; when he escaped, he carried a second personality, which named itself "Tabasco," for a bottle on a table. Now, however, Julio has been transformed into a woman called Lia. Another presence, Nathan, hanged himself in the house years before, but lives on. Hoffman has received praise for vivid fantasy, but here this amounts to a fuzzy concern with spiritual union with all the universe, wrapped in prose disconcertingly given to exclamations such as "Yow!" and "Wow!" (Feb. 6) Forecast: Hoffman has her fans, but she's not going to gain many more with this piece of work. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA
Anyone who has ever wondered what it might be like to be gifted with magical powers will be drawn to this imaginative although complex novel. The plot centers on Matilda (Matt) Black and her boyfriend, Edmund Reynolds, who met in A Red Heart of Memories (Ace, 1999/VOYA February 2000). Matt hopes her ability to talk to objects and read others' dreams will aid Edmund, a talented novice witch, on his journey to come to terms with his past, his present, and his future. To do this, Edmund must summon up the friends of his childhood and explain why he abandoned them fifteen years ago. In the earlier book, they located two of these friends, one who is a ghost, and all returned to the haunted house where they used to gather as teens. Now the reunion must continue, not just for Edmund's sake but also for that of the house, which can speak, think, and feel almost like a person. Many other plots involve the friends that Edmund convinces to return to the house. These subplots manage conveniently to come together. Although a bit contrived in parts, fantasy and reality blend so well that this flaw might be overlooked. The reality comes from the depiction of the characters, most of whom have magical abilities yet still stress over being liked, taking on responsibilities, and other everyday worries. Strong middle and older teen readers longing for a realistic, less traditional view of demons and witchcraft will find this a satisfying read. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P J S A/YA (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2001, Ace, 342p, $21.95. Ages 14 to Adult. Reviewer: Shari FeskoSOURCE: VOYA, August 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 3)
When a house of witches is threatened by a greater power, the group must call in reinforcements from the past and form an even tighter band in order to survive. While familiarity with Hoffman's past titles on the theme will lend a quicker appreciation for the setting here, her fine story will engross even newcomers, filled with imagery and strong characters.
From the Publisher
“Hoffman writes about magic creatively and with great feeling...her ingenious plotting explores memory, the nature of recollection and personal growth.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A lasting addition to the urban fantasy canon.” —Booklist

“Hoffman chronicles the destinies of young men and women as they try to come to terms with the magic that flows through the world around them. The author’s sensuous prose and gentle humor add a graceful charm to this fantasy adventure set in the modern world.” —Library Journal

“Great urban fantasy…A beautiful story. Nina Kiriki Hoffman is a wonderful storyteller who makes the written word sing. The characters drive the story as the motley crew wins the hearts of readers who will anxiously await the next installment in this fabulous series.” —Harriet Klausner, The Midwest Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101207994
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/01/2001
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
File size:
355 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt



Chapter One


A really big secret can keep you warm on cold nights, stifle hunger, drive shadows back. The best secrets make you feel safe. You could use this, you think, but not using it is what keeps you strong.

    Deirdre Eberhard changed the water in the last cat kennel in the row, petted the cat and spoke softly to it. It had to stay at the clinic until its wound healed, but it was lonesome for its owner. "Not much longer," Deirdre told it. She closed the cage door and straightened, pressed a hand into the small of her back and worked her knuckles against her spine.

    Her vet technician, Angie, had gone home for the day; the kennel aides, high-school kids named Bob and Nikki, had left hours earlier, and her partner, Doug Rosenfeld, hadn't even stopped at the clinic today. He did all the large-animal doctoring in their practice, caring for cattle, llamas, horses, reindeer, and the occasional ostrich, and he mostly worked out of his van at the ranches that spread out around the tiny Oregon desert town of Artemisia. He only came into the office on Wednesdays and Thursdays or when there was an emergency.

    Even the most forlorn dog on the premises had stopped howling and lay with its nose on its paws, its shining eyes watching Deirdre. All the animals had fresh food and water and clean litter or paper. The exam tables had been cleaned and had fresh mats and towels on them for tomorrow's patients. The autoclave had finished its last run of the day, and the washer and drier their last loads. Everything in the surgery was sterile and ready for the procedures she'd dotomorrow.

    All done. Just one final mugful of coffee in the coffeemaker, and a piece of sunset to watch. She rinsed out her mug, refilled it, cleaned the coffeepot and set the coffeemaker to start again tomorrow morning, then headed out the back door to the desert.

    Her clinic was a cinder-block building on the edge of town. She had a green resin Adirondack chair by the back door, under the shade of an overhang, where she sat between patients and wrote up her charts. After work, she sat and watched the quiet. She set her mug on the cement apron that wrapped around the building and leaned back in the chair, which was still warm from the day's heat.

    The sun slipped behind the Cascade Mountains. The sky's clear, distant blue had faded to white near the horizon, with bands of tangerine stain above where the sun dropped. At the zenith, the sky darkened.

    Warped and twisty juniper trees poked up here and there from an expanse of scrubby sage- and rabbitbrush that stretched, deceptively flat, from Deirdre's feet toward the forested mountains. She knew unseen undulations hid things: only half a mile away, a gorge cut through the desert like a sword strike through sand.

    The desert rustled, anticipating night.

    Birds flew down to the seep pond she had piped out when she first took over the veterinary practice here, at the edge of a universe. Deirdre practiced stillness and watched.

    This was her night: a place that looked desolate, arid, yet cupped life unseen. Her night, her place, her secret hope, that under a desolate surface, rustling, uttering things still lurked.

    She let out a slow breath, the frustrations of the day, and reached down for her coffee.

    Something wet touched the back of her hand.

    "Whoa!" she cried, and jerked back. She looked down into the face of a coyote.

    It stared at her with yellow-brown eyes.

    She gathered her breath, settled into the chair, and stared back. It showed no signs of rabies, aggression, or fear. It just stared.

    She had never been so close to a coyote before. She had seen them loping across distance, and heard their voices raised in the night, usually far enough away that they might be part of dreams. She had seen some caged down at the High Desert Museum in Bend, where injured wild animals were cared for and then released when they were well.

    There was a musky sagebrush-and-carrion scent, a strange heat that prickled the hairs on her forearms. She exchanged glances with the coyote for a long while, then wondered what next.

    It backed up a step and sat down.

    It lifted its left paw. For the first time she noticed the laceration. She sucked in breath.

    A fight with another animal? How would it get a cut like that?

    "Looks pretty bad," she said. "You want some help with that?"

    It cocked its head.

    Should she call animal control? She could deal with approach-with-caution cats and badly trained dogs, but she was out of her element with a wild animal. Well, that wasn't totally true; occasionally people brought her wild animals that had been hit by cars, but she dealt with them during office hours, when she had her vet tech with her, and they were never alert the way this coyote was. She could call someone and have the coyote shipped somewhere like the museum, where they had experience with undomesticated creatures.

    She sighed and got to her feet. If it spooked, so be it; that would make her decision for her. What if it only wanted to get into her building, where several small animals were helpless and edible? Getting into the kennels wouldn't be easy, and it would have to go through her first.

    The coyote backed off the concrete, but stopped on the earth beyond. It watched her and waited for what she would do next.

    Deirdre opened the back door of the building, dropped a doorstop under it. The coyote's access to outside had to be clear. She went into the treatment room and waited.

    The animal edged in, its nose lifted as it tasted air. After a period of examination, it limped forward.

    Had it been trained somehow? She had heard of half-coyote dogs, but she had never heard of a trained coyote. How was she going to deal with this?

    She opened the door into surgery, propped it, too, with a doorstop, patted the stainless-steel-topped operating table. "Up here."

    It gathered itself and jumped onto the table, then sat, its gaze fixed on her face.

    "Okay," said Deirdre. She took a deep breath. She had to be crazy. What if it bit her? A bad bite could cripple her. She should sedate it. If it were asleep, she could operate without worrying whether it was going to bite her. But anesthesia was difficult to handle without her vet tech; an operation was really a two-person job. First the shot to sedate the animal, then a short wait for it to fall asleep; not hard. Monitoring the tracheal tube that kept gas flowing to anesthetize the animal while she operated, positioning the animal, help with equipment during surgery, and keeping the patient warm during anesthesia by surrounding it with hot water bottles and covering it with towels, those were things her tech usually did.

    Maybe she should call Angie. But Angie would be home having supper with her husband and three-year-old daughter.

    Maybe there was another answer.

    She studied the coyote, and it studied her.

    "Okay. I'm going to take a look." She reached slowly forward.

    It let her lift its paw.

    The cut was deep, and looked fresh.

    "Here's what I have to do. I need to clean this out. First shave around the wound, then reshape the edges so I can suture it, then sew you up. So I want to put you to sleep, because this is going to hurt, but it'll help in the long run. Why am I telling you this?"

    "Whuff." A breath of bark.

    "Yeah, because I always talk to my patients, that's why, except when Angie's around to hear me. She already thinks I'm crazy." She took a look at the coyote and judged its weight at about forty pounds. She opened a sterile syringe and plunged the needle through the rubber cap of the anesthetic bottle, drew out the dose, and approached the coyote. "This will hurt a little, but a lot less than the operation would if you were awake," she said, showing the syringe to the animal. Would it let her grab the scruff of its neck and give the injection?

    The coyote growled.

    "Okay, that's it. I can't do this for you if you're going to protest."

    It lifted its left paw.

    "You want me to operate without anesthesia? You can't guarantee that you won't bite me when I do something that hurts you, can you? Of course you'll bite me. It's only natural."

    "Whuff."

    She tossed the filled syringe in the SHARPS biohazard waste can. "We'll try it one step at a time," she said. "Guess I should have realized before now that you're not exactly natural. First I'm going to put some lubricant on the wound so I can shave around it and not get hair in it."

    The coyote put up with jelly, electric clippers, and her vacuuming the hair away. No flinching, no untoward movements, nothing that threatened.

    Deirdre scrubbed up, put on surgical gloves, sighed again. She got out the cold tray of sterile instruments she would need if she went any further.

    She drenched cotton squares in Nolvasan, then gripped the coyote's paw in her right hand and gently pressed the antiseptic to the wound.

    "Bowoooo!" The coyote lifted its head and howled in soprano.

    The three dogs in the kennels barked at the tops of their lungs, setting up resonance and echoes. Some of the cats snarled, hissed, growled. She glanced through the open door of the surgery into the treatment room, where kennels lined the back wall. The cats' fur had bushed up.

    Strange that the cacophony had waited until the coyote howled: usually everybody would be excited to some extent whenever she brought another animal into the treatment room. One that smelled as wild as this should have driven the dogs mad from the start.

    She finished cleaning the wound and preparing it for surgery.

    The coyote whimpered. But it didn't bite her.

    The other animals settled down again, not even the ambient growl.

    Then she turned to the cold tray. "How about a local anesthetic?"

    This is crazy, she thought. I'm talking as though it can understand me. It acts as if it can. Now I'm discussing treatment options with a patient, which is something I never expected to do as a vet. But then again, it's not exactly a natural patient.

    Not exactly natural.

    Something shimmered and trembled in her chest. She had moved away from magic when she left Guthrie to go to the vet college at Oregon State University. She'd only gone back once, to find the magic tarnished and ragged and worn. The ghost had been a lot smaller and dimmer, and all her other friends were gone.

    When she was much younger, magic had touched her. She had worn magic like a coat. But it had never entered her bloodstream the way it had with the others, never claimed her as part of it. She had figured there must be something wrong with her. She was destined to be ordinary; she might as well get on with it, build herself the best ordinary life she could.

    Her marriage had lasted almost three years.

    The coyote cocked its head.

    "If I give you a shot," she said, "it can numb the leg so you won't feel the stitches. One prick instead of lots of them. What do you think?" Of course, it would involve some waiting, too, but she had nothing else to do tonight but watch TV in her A-frame, a hundred yards from the clinic.

    "Whuff."

    "You're sure?"

    It pawed her arm. She sighed. "Okay. No anesthetic. I need you to lie down on your side."

    The coyote lay down, wounded leg up and available. Deirdre threaded the curved needle with the first suture and set the suture container upright, then went to work. Her patient occasionally whined, but it did not interfere or resist in any way.

    When she had finished, she wrapped the wound, even though she knew that if this were a normal animal, it would bite the bandages off, and maybe chew out the stitches, too.

    "The hard part's done," she said. "I want to give you a shot of Pen B and G. It won't knock you out or make you woozy, but it will prevent tetanus. Okay?" The coyote sat up. Deirdre drew the dose. This time the coyote didn't resist, and she gave it an injection. "Anything else I can do for you? Would you like some food? I imagine it's been hard to catch rabbits and mice and grasshoppers with that bum leg."

    "Whuff."

    She poured canine maintenance kibble into a steel bowl and filled a second with water, then set them both on the cement floor in the treatment room. The coyote ate and drank. It stood for a long moment staring out the open door into the night, then turned to look at her.

    "Thank you," it said in a low, woman's voice.

    It slipped away, silent as shadow, before Deirdre had finished her gasp.

    She could wait a couple minutes before she scrubbed down the surgery. She went back outside to watch stars prick the sky. Her coffee was cold, but she drank it anyway.


Tasha Dane, who wandered the world in search of scents, sights, and sounds, sat on a branch high up in a Ponderosa pine in the Cascades and opened to night sounds, breathed them in. Coyotes called up the mountain, and somewhere nearer an owl hooted. Small gentle waves lapped the shore of the lake below. Tiny animals moved through underbrush. Breeze brushed through pine needles in the trees above her.

    Across the lake, campsite fires starred the darkness among the evergreens, orange images reflected on the dark surface of the lake. She leaned forward, seeking. A guitar strummed across distance; voices sang; woodsmoke blew toward her, and the odor of burning wood and cooking meat mixed with evergreen, earth, and water scents. She closed her eyes and drew in sounds and scents.

    It had been a month since she had come this close to people. She had spent time recently in the far north, collecting the almost-not-there scents of different kinds of ice and snow, watching northern lights shift and sheet and shimmer against wide, deep, long night skies.

    One night something had thawed in her winter-iced chest. I wonder if it's spring at home yet.

    She had turned south, found winds to drift her down, and here, close to her old home, she saw small signs: leaf buds swelling on trees, some of the earliest flowers poking up through sodden forest floor. Too early yet for frogs to call, but the rain and wind tasted soft with season shift.

    A mouse shrieked as an owl caught it. She added that fragment of sound to her collection, then made a sampler of night scents: Ponderosa pine needles both fallen and still on the tree, the stronger scent of sap, earth, some spicy herb nearby. The faintest whiff of skunk spray. Fainter, tints and traces of smoke and food cooking, song and guitar, the murmur of voices across water.

    People.

    She wasn't ready to talk to anyone yet. It always took her a while to come back from these journeys. Here, she felt comfortable. People were over there, not beyond sight and sound, but not close enough to notice her. She could get used to them gradually.

    Wind nudged her from behind. She laughed and let go of her branch, plunged out into nothing. Air carried her up above the forest.

    She looked and listened and smelled and tasted: treetops had a different scent from the scent on the forest floor, sounds carried differently from this height; starlight painted patterns along the pine needles, gleamed on the lake.

    She blew out over the lake, toward the campground.

    —Wait.— She put out hands, spread fingers, tried to brake, turn, go back to the safety of the forest.

    Wooden rowboats bumped a wooden dock below her, and now she could hear conversations. A dog at one of the campsites barked. Another answered.

    —No. Not yet. I'm not ready,—she told Air as it tumbled her toward people.

    —Really not ready?—

    —Really.— She hugged herself. She had no clothes. She couldn't remember how to speak aloud. She didn't want to come back to people here, where she knew no one. She wanted to choose her entry.

    If Air told her to touch down here and now, she would. She had weathered more difficult things. In the service of Air, she went everywhere, sooner or later. Why not here?

    She hovered twenty feet above the dock. Yard light from the little campground store shone on her, sheathing her skin in orange glow.

    For a moment she was close enough to touch human-built things, close enough to be seen, to be drawn into local lives.

    Air lifted her again.

    She breathed out happiness, breathed more in.

    She spent the night listening to deep forest.


Lia Fuego leaned forward in her box seat and stared down at the lighted stage, where the first instruments were tuning to each other. It was starting: the liquid fire that was music, edging upward from tinder into flame. The instruments joined, one section at a time, each musician searching for and finding the perfect note.

    Harry Vandermeer touched her arm. She glanced at him, let him draw her out of the sound. She loved the look of him in his elegant dark suit, the long, graceful hands that were like pale lilies at the ends of his sleeves, the short gold hair that fell neatly against his skull, the gray-blue eyes that held storms and silence. His face in repose looked like he was amused by everything; now it was animated, his expression a mixture of worry and laughter. "We're in the wrong seats," he murmured.

    The woman sitting on his other side slitted her eyes at him as if to tell him to shut up.

    Lia leaned toward him, her shoulder nudging his, so she could hear a whisper. He bent his head. His breath touched her ear.

    "We're in the wrong seats," he whispered, "if you're going to do that."

    "What?" she whispered.

    He took her hand, stroked it gently. She looked down.

    "Oh." Her skin glowed, its natural darkness illuminated by a layer of orange flame. Flame washed over his hand, curling and curving calligraphies of fire.

    Just then the tuning stopped, and her fire faded.

    It had been so long since she'd been to a concert hall. She had music in her life every day, one way or another, but a full orchestra? Tonight's program had some of her favorite orchestral pieces on it, ones she hadn't heard live in more than fifteen years, some she'd never heard live. Since she had met Harry ten years before, they hadn't spent much time doing normal things, but she had seen this concert listed in the paper, and mentioned to Harry that she'd like to go, and he got tickets.

    She wanted to hear the music more than anything.

    "We'd better go," she whispered.

    The conductor came onstage, and applause swept through the audience. It was the right moment to duck out.

    "Look," he whispered. He pointed up toward the back of the concert hall. Some of the pieces the orchestra was playing tonight were pretty obscure, and there were rows of empty seats in the nosebleed section, on the second balcony.

    She gripped his hand. They stood up, left their seats, and ran for the stairs.

    Maybe, maybe, if they sat all the way in the back, and no one turned around, she could lose herself in the music after all.


"What do you make of this?" the boy asked Terry Dane.

    The college bar was noisy and dark, and the band was loud and bad. The kid was dressed in baggy, pleated thrift-store pants and a light blue work shirt with the sleeves rolled up, not a look Terry could ever remember being fashionable.

    He had shaggy dark hair that looked like he had hacked it off himself without consulting a mirror. His eyes, too, appeared dark; maybe they'd be some other color if there were enough light to see them by. How old was this guy? Fifteen? Sixteen? Terry knew the bouncers carded people coming in; the cops had been cracking down on underage drinking lately. He had to be older than he looked.

    She sipped her beer and peeked at the thing the boy held out to her. It was dark, glassy, and vaguely oval with bumps, and it filled his palm; his fingers curled around it. She couldn't see details in the lousy light, except for a few spots of reflected shine from the neon beer ads behind the bar.

    "I don't know. What is it?"

    "You're the witch. You tell me."

    "Excuse me?" Terry set her beer mug on the bar with a thunk. She had heard a lot of pickup lines in the past eight years since she turned legal, but this one took her by surprise. She blinked and leaned forward to peer into the kid's face. His skin was pale, and he looked like a teenager, except that the dead expression on his face spoke of someone who was either older or had been through hell or both. "Who are you?"

    "You can call me Galen if you like." His voice came out in a monotone, each syllable equally unstressed, except for a faint upward tone at the end of the sentence.

    He smiled.

    Terry felt something strange and dark flutter in her chest. His smile charmed her—more than she meant to be charmed. She could tell it wasn't even a good smile, just a movement of muscles, and yet, unaccountably, she warmed to him. She hated that. "Is there any particular reason why I might like to call you that? Does it bear any resemblance to your actual name?"

    "Yes."

    "I get this feeling I know you—" Terry began, a faint echo in her mind. She had seen this boy before, a long time ago. Maybe for just a minute.

    "Hey, baby!" said somebody with the build and number jersey of a football player. He leaned heavily on Terry's shoulder and breathed alcohol fumes into her face. "Wanna have some real fun? Ditch Junior here and come play with the big boys." He wagged his crewcut head toward a group of large men by one of the pool tables. Two of them waved to her, and all of them grinned.

    She grinned back and patted his check. "Hey, great! I'll be over in a minute, okay, buddy?"

    "Whoa! Yeah! Uh-huh, huh!" He kissed her cheek and staggered back toward the pool table, then detoured in the direction of the rest rooms.

    She wiped saliva off her face. "Well, okay, Galen, what is it you want from me?"

    He glanced away from her and swallowed. She saw his Adam's apple bob. "I think I need some help," he said. His voice was still monotone.

    "This is how you ask for help? Calling me a witch?"

    He frowned. He turned back to meet her gaze, his eyes narrowed. "I haven't talked to anybody outside in a long time," he said after a few breaths. "I'm not good at it."

    "I noticed."

    "There's a statue in the park across the street."

    Terry's eyebrows lifted. She sipped beer and waited.

    Galen looked away again, his mouth tightening. "I guess I should go home and study conversation. I haven't tried to talk to a stranger in forty years. What a ridiculous set of skills for me not to have." He hunched his shoulders and turned away.

    Terry touched his arm. Shock tingled through her, so intense and sudden she yelped. Galen turned, startled too.

    "Hey, baby. This guy still bothering you?" asked the crewcut man, returned from the rest rooms.

    "No, honey. He's my brother. Give me a few minutes, will you?"

    Crewcut slapped her back and wandered away, nodding.

    "What are you going to do with him?" Galen asked.

    Terry slitted her eyes. She dropped a five-dollar bill on the bar. "Let's go outside."

    They pushed their way out past close-packed people. The night air felt cool and sharp after the hot, smelly air in the bar, the orange streetlamps sun-bright after the bar's darkness. Traffic had almost disappeared.

    Terry grabbed Galen's arm and shuddered as the shock of touching him struck her. When it faded, she pulled him across the street into the little park. It was big enough to have two patches of frosty lawn, three winterbare maple trees—it was late February, too early for spring leaves—a bench, a trash can, and, oh, yes, there was a statue there, a stone soldier on a pedestal commemorating the dead in some war a long time ago. She dragged Galen over to it and opened her senses as wide as she could. What had this soldier to do with witching? She didn't get any hit from it at all.

    She turned to Galen, senses still wide, and saw that he glowed. Fox fire gray-green.

    She should have expected something like that. Static electricity couldn't explain the charge he'd given her.

    She let go of his arm. "I'm listening."

    He sighed, stepped over to the pedestal, and leaned against it. The witchglow around him changed to a shifting blend of yellow, pink, and red. His face came alive. This time his smile looked genuine. She liked it even more. "I, uh—"

    Terry touched the pedestal. Dead stone. What was this?

    "It's this—I was just leaning against this and the statue said go in the bar and find the witch." Now his voice rose and fell in the tones of normal conversation.

    "What made you decide I was a witch?"

    "Oh, come on. I can spot witches, no problem. It's elementary."

    "How?"

    He drew a couple signs in the air with an index finger, muttered three words, touched his eyes.

    Terry knew the spell. Simple, effective. Make the hidden visible. She sighed. "So what is it you want from me?"

    "Here." He held out his hand, the dark, shiny object still in it.

    "Apprentice!" cried a loud voice from behind them.

    Terry and Galen turned toward the street. A tall, white-haired man cloaked in black stood on the sidewalk, glaring at them. Galen snatched his hand back and tucked it into his pocket.

    "Sorry," he whispered. He pushed off from the pedestal and ran past Terry toward the street. The man flapped his cloak open, wrapped it around the boy, spun, and both of them vanished.

    "Son of a bitch." Terry leaned forward and touched the statue's pedestal again, wondering what had brought the boy to life. It felt like stone. She used the see-better spell Galen had demonstrated, but the stone stayed dull, flat, and unmagical, even to her improved vision.

    Hadn't she seen that white-haired man before? Somewhere, somewhen.... Sometime unpleasant.

    Where?

    She shook her head, then pulled her evening's experimental spell out of her pocket. She had learned to compress spells into tablets suitable for dropping into drinks. She was trying for a "nice and obedient" spell that didn't totally rob men of their minds, but she hadn't gotten the mix of ingredients right yet.

    Maybe tonight.

    She headed back inside the bar, looking for her crewcut buddy.

Summers at Castle Auburn

By SHARON SHINN

ACE BOOKS

Copyright © 2001 Sharon Shinn. All rights reserved.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Hoffman writes about magic creatively and with great feeling...her ingenious plotting explores memory, the nature of recollection and personal growth.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A lasting addition to the urban fantasy canon.” —Booklist

“Hoffman chronicles the destinies of young men and women as they try to come to terms with the magic that flows through the world around them. The author’s sensuous prose and gentle humor add a graceful charm to this fantasy adventure set in the modern world.” —Library Journal

“Great urban fantasy…A beautiful story. Nina Kiriki Hoffman is a wonderful storyteller who makes the written word sing. The characters drive the story as the motley crew wins the hearts of readers who will anxiously await the next installment in this fabulous series.” —Harriet Klausner, The Midwest Book Review

Meet the Author

Over the past twenty-four years, Nina Kiriki Hoffman has sold novels, juvenile and media tie-in books, short story collections, and more than two hundred short stories. Her works have been finalists for the Nebula, World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, Sturgeon, and Endeavour awards. Her first novel, The Thread That Binds the Bones, won a Stoker Award. Nina's YA novel Spirits that Walk in Shadow and her science fiction novel Catalyst were published in 2006. Her fantasy novel Fall of Light will be published by Ace Books in May.

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