By Margo Lanagan
As a part of a public execution, a tender boy forlornly is helping to sing his sister down. . . . A servant learns approximately grace and loyalty from a mistress who could really dance with Gypsies than take a seat on her throne. . . . A terrifying come across with a demonic angel supplies a tender guy the power he must separate from of his oppressor. . . . On a bleak and dreary afternoon a gleeful capturing spree ends up in tragedy for a determined clown not able to flee his fate.In every one of Margo Lanagan's ten impressive tales, human frailty is positioned to the try out via the implacable forces of darkish and lightweight, guy and beast. black juice bargains glimpses into accepted, shadowy worlds that push the bounds of the spirit and go away the brain haunted with the information that black juice runs via us all.
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The Plunge by starlight is a dire place, and not something you hurry. You hold yourself by teeth and ears and your horse’s toenails to that cliff, and promise Nature anything if she’ll let you out the other side. You ponder nothing but getting step to step; there’s no time even to curse the lady who brought you here. 24 black juice-text pages 12/2/04 3:27 PM Page 25 my lord’s man And then I’m wobbling with relief on the flat, and the paler darkness of the road swings out of the trees and into our path, and I think we have a chance again.
Yes, it’s true! It’s not just fire-flicker tweaking his mouth, but—what? Mirth? Joy? I hunt and hunt for wryness or 27 black juice-text pages 12/2/04 3:27 PM Page 28 black juice bitterness in his face, for poison, for grief. I find none. He might be watching the children’s tourney on Midsummer Eve, benign—charmed even. Rage surges at my throat. Were she my wife— But I chose a good wife, one that would steady me in my youth and companion me in my old age. Mullord, steady in himself from his very beginnings—well, what was he after, taking this wild girl to him?
Why, I see the rage, as we all do. ’ That prickle of lightning, which doesn’t know its own power. The tree-shadows muffle nothing—not my voice, not the mistress’s fine ears. ‘But the other thing—I cannot lie to you, Mistress. ’ We wait at the bottom of the path. The sun creaks a little higher at the edge of the world, and I can see the mistress’s face composed, raised to the scrubby hillside, her beauty no less for the absence of its usual colour, for the shadows exhaustion has painted around her eyes.