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The Twilight Pariah, a Horror Novel by Jeffrey Ford, An Excerpt…

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From TOR…

Three friends go looking for treasure and find horror in Jeffrey Ford’s The Twilight Pariah—available September 12th from Tor.com Publishing.

All Maggie, Russell, and Henry wanted out of their last college vacation was to get drunk and play archaeologist in an old house in the woods outside of town. When they excavate the mansion’s outhouse they find way more than they bargained for: a sealed bottle filled with a red liquid, along with the bizarre skeleton of a horned child

Disturbing the skeleton throws each of their lives into a living hell. They feel followed wherever they go, their homes are ransacked by unknown intruders, and people they care about are brutally, horribly dismembered. The three friends awakened something, a creature that will stop at nothing to retrieve its child

From Publishers Weekly…

College students on summer vacation become amateur archeologists and unearth a legendary ghost in Ford’s humorous suspense yarn set in present-day upstate New York. Slacker English major Henry narrates the adventures of his hometown friends, amiable football hulk Russell and single-minded archeology major Maggie. By day they work mind-numbing jobs, but by night they’re joined by Russell’s boyfriend Luther to provide muscle for Maggie as she excavates around the derelict mansion on the edge of town. She’s convinced there must be something unique in the ancient outhouse. Their discoveries lead them to the town’s historical library, legends of a Devil Baby, a smoke monster, and a 127-year-old woman. After loved ones are attacked, the crew enlists the help of crusty Professor Medley to vanquish the ghost. Ford (A Natural History of Hell) meticulously builds the unnerving mystery in this brief, succinct story, bringing it to a cleanly executed but rushed ending. Endearing characters, elegant descriptions, and imaginative monsters make this a breezy beach read for horror fans. (Sept. 2017)

 

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Chapter 1

She picked me up at sunset in that ancient lime green Ford Galaxie she’d rebuilt and painted two summers earlier when she was into cars. It came around the corner like it’d busted out of an old movie. She sat there behind the wheel, leaning her elbow on the door frame. There was a lit cigarette between her lips. She wore a white men’s T-shirt and her hair was pinned up but not with any accuracy. Every time I’d seen her since we’d left high school her glasses were a different color. This pair had pink lenses and red circular frames.

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“Out hopped three little red men…” Art by Ian Hinley

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Jack and His Golden Snuff Box. Art by Ian Hinley.

 

Based on the English fairy tale “Jack and His Golden Snuff-Box”…

“…he felt in his pocket, and drew the little box out. And when he opened it, out there hopped three little red men.”

“The Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown”—A Short Story by Jane Yolen, 2013. (TOR.com)

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This story was first published in Ellen Datlow’s anthology Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells in 2013. It has also been reprinted in Yolen’s new collection of fantasy stories The Emerald Circus, published by Tachyon (2017).

“The Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown” is a gaslight fantasy focusing on the relationship between Queen Victoria and British statesman Benjamin Disraeli. Of the pair, Yolen writes, “If that odd friendship came out of mutual admiration, mutual interests, or magic, it is not for me to say. I only speculate.”


June 1875

Why, they are quite barbaric,” the queen said to her prime minister, making small talk since she wasn’t actually certain where Zululand was. Somewhere in deepest, darkest Africa. That much at least she was certain. She would have to get out the atlas. Again. She had several of Albert’s old atlases, and the latest American one, a Swinton.

Thinking about the problem with an atlas, and how—unlike the star charts, which never varied—it kept changing with each new discovery on the dark continent, she sniffed into her dainty handkerchief. She was not sniffing at Mr Disraeli, though, and she was quite careful to make that distinction by glancing up at him and dimpling. It was important that he never know how she really felt about him. Truth to tell, she was unsure herself.

“Barbaric in our eyes, certainly, ma’am,” he said, his dark eyes gazing back at her.

She did not trust dark eyes. At least not that dark. Give her good British blue any day. Or Albert’s blue. But those dark eyes… she shuddered. A bit of strangeness in the prime minister’s background for all that she’d been assured he was an Anglican.

“What do you mean, Mr Disraeli?” she asked. She thought she knew, but she wanted to hear him say it. Best to know one’s enemies outright. She considered all prime ministers the enemy. After all, they always wanted something from her and only seemed to promise something in return. Politics was a nasty business and the Crown had to seem to be above it while controlling it at all times.

A tightrope, really. …

Read the whole story, here, at TOR.com…