year's end // year's beginning

'Everybody was asleep. Everybody except Meg. Even Charles Wallace, the "dumb baby brother", who had an uncanny way of knowing when she was awake and unhappy, and who would come, so many nights, tiptoeing up the attic stairs to her ‑ even Charles Wallace was asleep.
How could they sleep? All day on the radio there had been hurricane warnings. How could they leave her up in the attic in the rickety brass bed, knowing that the roof might be blown right off the house, and she tossed out into the wild night sky to land who knows where?
Her shivering grew uncontrollable.
You asked to have the attic bedroom, she told herself savagely. ‑ Mother let you have it because you're the oldest. It's a privilege, not a punishment.
"Not during a hurricane, it isn't a privilege," she said aloud. She tossed the quilt down on the foot of the bed, and stood up. The kitten stretched luxuriously, and looked up at her with huge, innocent eyes.
"Go back to sleep," Meg said. "Just be glad you're a kitten and not a monster like me." '

A Wrinkle in Time
(Page 3-4)

Rating: 2.5/5

'When they found her all she would say was, "The Rabbit. The Rabbit. The Rabbit." Over and over. When she acted like that they said she was mad. Alice knew she wasn't mad. Maybe. Not deep down. But the powders they gave her made the world all muzzy and sideways and sometimes she felt mad.
Everything had happened just as she said, when she could say something besides "Rabbit." She and Dor went into the Old City for Dor's birthday. Sixteenth birthday. Sixteen candles on your cake, a sliver of cake and a cup of tea for you, my dear. They both went in, but only Alice came out. Two weeks later came Alice, covered in blood, babbling about tea and a rabbit, wearing a dress that wasn't hers. red running down the insides of her legs and blue marks on her thighs where fingers had been.'

(Page 9-10)

Rating: 4/5

'It is many years before the Pied Piper comes back for the other children. Though his music has been silenced, still thousands are forced to follow him, young, old, large, small, everyone . . . even the ogres wearing ten-league boots and cracking whips, even their nine-headed dogs. We are the rats in exodus now and the Earth shrinks from the touch of our feet. Spring leaves a bitter taste. All day, rain and people fall; all night, nixies wails from the lakes. The blood-coloured bear sniffs at our heels. I keep my eyes on the road, counting white pebbles, fearful of where this last gingerbread trail is leading us.
Has the spell worked? I think so: coils of mist lap at our ankles, rising to mute all sounds, swallowing everyone around us whole. When the moment comes, we run blind, dragging the Shadow behind us, stopping only when my outstretched hand meets the rough bark of pine trunks. One step, two, and we're inside the enchanted forest, the air threaded with icy witch-breaths. The day collapses around us Phantom sentries swoop from the trees demanding names but our teeth guard the answers so they turn away, flapping eastward in search of the cloud-shrouded moon. Roots coil, binding us to the forest floor. We crouch in a silence punctuated by the distant clatter of stags shedding their antlers.
We wake, uneaten.'

Gretel and the Dark
(Page 1)

Rating: 3/5

'Quentin felt like the little boy at the beginning of The Lorax, at the mysterious tower of the dismal Once-ler. They should have been facing down bellowed challenged from black knights bearing the vergescu, or solving thorny theological dilemmas posed by holy hermits. Or at the very least resisting the diabolical temptations of ravishing succubi. Not fighting off season affective disorder.'

The Magician King
(Page 136-137)

Rating: 4/5

'The Grayer twins lean in, their faces shining like Christmas, and I know what they're hungry for. They pucker up their lips and suck. The round cloud stretches doughily into two smaller round clouds . . . and splits. One half of my soul goes into Jonah's mouth, and the other into Norah's. They shut their eyes like Mum did the time we saw Vladimir Ashkenazy at the Royal Albert Hall. Bliss. Bliss. Inside my skull, I howl and my howl echoes on and on and on and on but nothing lasts forever . . . The big beating heart-thing's gone, and the Grayer twins are back kneeling where they were before. Time's slowed down to nothing. The brownish moth is frozen an inch away from it. Cold bright star white. The Nathan in the mirror's gone, and if he's gone, I'm―'

Slade House
(Page 36)

Rating: 4/5

'...the day was darkening outside, and as I finished that first bite, as that first impression faded, I felt a subtle shift inside, an unexpected reaction. Ad if a sensor, so far buried inside me, raised its scope to scan around, alerting my mouth to something new. Because the goodness of the ingredients—the fine chocolate, the freshest lemons—seemed like a cover over something larger and darker, and the taste of what was underneath was beginning to push up from the bite. I could absolutely taste the chocolate, but in drifts and traces, in an unfurling, or an opening, it seemed that my mouth was also filling with the taste of smallness, the sensation of shrinking, of upset, tasting a distance I somehow knew was connected to my mother, tasting a crowded sense of her thinking, a spiral, like I could almost even taste the grit in her jaw that had created the headache that meant she had to take as many aspirins as were necessary, a white dotted line of them in a row on the nightstand like an ellipsis to her comment: I'm just going to lie down.... None of it was a bad taste, so much, but there was a kind of lack of wholeness to the flavors that made it taste hollow, like the lemon and chocolate were just surrounding a hollowness. My mother's able hands had made the cake, and her mind had known ho to balance the ingredients, bit she was not there, in it. It so scared me that I took a knife from a drawer and cut out a big slice, ruining the circle, because I had to check again right that second...'

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
(Page 11-12)

Rating: 3.5/5