Last Summer at Mars Hill

Last Summer at Mars Hill

by Elizabeth Hand


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Mars Hill spiritualist community, founded 1883

It's nothing fancy. Just a faded resort on the rocky Maine Coast, inhabited by aging hippies, their rebellious children—and the elusive, shimmering spirits known as "the Golden Ones."

They are the reason Mars Hill exists. Not everyone can see Them, but everyone can feel their healing presence. Even fetching, skeptical, young Moony Rising, who has come to say farewell to everything she ever loved. And to learn a secret more wondrous than love itself...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061053481
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/26/1998
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.84(d)

About the Author

A New York Times notable and multiple award– winning author, Elizabeth Hand has written seven novels, including the cult classic Waking the Moon, and short-story collections. She is a longtime contributor to numerous publications, including the Washington Post Book World and the Village Voice Literary Supplement. She and her two children divide their time between the coast of Maine and North London.

Read an Excerpt

Last Summer at

Mars HIll

Even before they left home, Moony knew her mother wouldn't return from Mars Hill that year. Jason had called her from his father's house in San Francisco—

"I had a dream about you last night, he'd said, his voice cracking the way it did when he was excited. "We were at Mars Hill: and my father was there, and my mother, too—I knew it was a dream, like can you imagine my mother at Mars Hill?— and yoiu had n this sort of long black dress and you were sitting alone by the pier. And you said "This is it, Jason. We'll never see this again." I felt like crying, I tried to hug you but my father pulled me back. And then I woke up."

She didn't say anything. Finally Jason prodded her. "Weird, huh, Moony? I mean, don't you think it's weird?"

She shrugged and rolled her eyes, then sighed loudly so that he'd be able to tell she was upset. "Thanks, Jason. Like that's supposed to cheer me up?"

A long silence, then Tason's breathless voice again. "Shit, Moony,I'm sorry. I didn't—"

She laughed, a little nervously, and said "Forget it. So when you flying out to Maine?"

Nobody but Jason called her Moony, not at home at least, not in Kamensic Village. There she was Maggie Rheining, which was the name that appeared under her junior picture in the high school yearbook.

But the name that had been neatly typed on the birth certificate in San Francisco sixteen years I ago, the name Jason and everyone at Mars Hill knew her by, was Shadowmoon Starlight Rising. Maggie would have shaved her head before she'd admit her real name to anyone at school. At Mars Hill itwasn't so weird: there was Adele Grose knowm professionally as Madame Olaf; Shasta Daisy O'Hare and Rvis Capricorn; Martin Dionysos, who was Jason's father; and Ariel Rising, nee Amanda Mae Rheining, who was Moony's mother. For most of the year Moony and Ariel lived in Kamensic Village, the affluent New York exurb where her mother ran Earthly Delights Catering and Moony attended high school, and everything was pretty much normal. It was only in June that they headed north to Maine, to the tiny spiritualist community where they had summered for as long as Moony could remember. And even though she could have stayed in Kamensic with Ariel's friends the Loomises, at the last minute (and due in large part to Jason's urging, and threats if she abandoned him there) she decided to go with her mother:to Mars Hill. Later, whenever she thought how close she'd come to not going it made her feel sick: as though she'd missed a flight and later: found out the plane had crashed.

Because much as she loved it, Moony had always been a little ashamed of Mars Hill. It was such a dinky place, plopped in the middle:of nowhere on the rocky Maine coast—tiny shingle-style Carpenter Gothic cottages, all tumbled into disrepair, their elaborate trim rotting and strung with spiderwebs; poppies and lupines and tiger lilies sprawling bravely atop clumps of chickweed and dandelions of truly monstrous size; even the sign by the pier so faded you almost couldn't read the earnest lettering:


"Why doesn't your father take somebody's violet aura and repaint the damn sign with it?" she'd exploded once to Jason.

Jason looked surprised. "I kind of like it like that," he said, shaking the hair from his face and tossing a sea urchin at the: silvered board. "It looks like it was put up by our Founding Mothers." But for years Moony almost couldn't stand to even look at the sign, it embarrassed her so much."

It was Jason who helped. her get over that. They'd met when they were both twelve. It was the summer that Ariel started the workshop in Creative Psychokinesis, the first summer that Jason and his father had stayed at Mars Hill.

"Hey," Jason had said too loudly, when they found themselves left alone while the adults swapped wine coolers and introductions at the summer's first barbecue. They were the only kids in sight. There were no other families and few conventionally married couples at Mars Hill..The community had been the cause of more than one custody battle that had ended with wistful children sent to spend the summer with a more respectable parent in Boston or Manhattan or Bar Harbor. "That lady there with my father—"

He stuck his thumb out to indicate Ariel, her long black hair frizzed and bound with leather thongs, an old multicolored skirt flapping around her legs. She was talkin to a slender man with close-cropped blond hair and goatee, wearing a sky-blue caftan and shabby Birkenstock sandals. "That your mom?"

"Yeah Moony shrugged and glanced at the man in the caftan. He and Ariel both turned to look at their children. The man grinned and raised his wine glass. Ariel did a little pirouette and blew a kiss at Moony.

"Looks like she did too much of the brown acid at Woodstock," Jason announced, and flopped onto the grass. Moony glared down at him.

"She wasn't at Woodstock, asshole," she said, and had started to walk away when the boy called after her.

Hey—it's a joke! My name's Jason—" He pointed at the man with Ariel. "That's my father. Martin Dionysos. But like that's not his real name, okay? His real name is Schuster but he changed it, but I'm Jason Schuster. He's a painter. We don't know anyone here.

Table of Contents

Last Summer at Mars Hill
The Erl-King
Dionysus Dendrites
The Have-Nots
In the Month of Athyr
Engels Unaware
The Bacchae
Snow on Sugar Mountain
On the Town Route
The Boy in the Tree
Prince of Flowers

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