Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Susan Price: THE WIZARD, THE DEVIL, THE CZAR AND THE ANGEL

'Ghost Dance' by Susan Price.  Cover by Andrew Price
          'Outside the circle, where the candlelight edged into darkness, two figures stood in talk, a man and a devil.
           The man… (says the cat) was Master Richard Jenkins, an Englishman and a wizard.
          The devil was a red and furry devil, its fur rippling in the candlelight like red velvet. Its tail had an arrow's point on the end, and was long, and coiled and bounced like a spring as the devil moved. Its head was fearsome, large and round with staring, glittering eyes and ram's horns; and all around its head and shoulders hung a shimmering red mist.
          'Are you listening to me?' said Master Jenkins to the devil… 'Take off the head when I talk to you!'
         The devil… wrenched off its tight-fitting head. Underneath was another: the head  of a boy… He clutched the devil's head in his velvet-suited arms, and fingered the wire spikes, hung with strings of red sequins, that decorated it. These sequined spikes… trembled in the light and made the red mist around him. This devil (says the cat) …is a very obedient devil, because he is much smaller and thinner than Master Jenkins, and he is afraid of him.

          Master Jenkins, the wizard, is employed by the Czar Grozni, to discover the Elixir of Immortality.  He has promised to raise a demon, which will tell them the elixir’s recipe.

          The Czar trusted no one fully because he feared, always, that someone was planning his murder. So he feared to be alone and unprotected, but he also feared to be in crowds, where many people who meant him harm might be gathered together. Perhaps most of all he feared the future, which was like a long dark corridor, with an even deeper darkness at its further end. In this dark corridor, into which he must go, assassins and attackers might be waiting at every step…

          Master Jenkins does not rest easy of nights…

           Master Jenkins dozed comfortably for a while. But then, in the darkness behind his closed eyes, there appeared a vivid picture of the Czar: a perfect picture.
          There was the long, greasy hair; the large nose; the shadowed hollows for eyes. And the expression on the Czar's face said: I know you lie to me… I am waiting to see how big a lie you dare to tell me, and …how big a fool you dare to think me. And then my executioners will - Master Jenkins bounced upright in bed… and turned cold to the centre of his bones.
          Master Jenkins was like a man who has ridden on the back of a tiger for so long - and the tiger has been so gentle and meek for so long - that the man has fallen into the habit of thinking himself for ever safe. But now and again… he remembers with a horrible shock that it is a tiger he is riding; and he is forced to consider what will happen if the tiger ever tires of the game.
'Ghost Song'

          
GHOST DANCE is the third book of the Ghost World sequence and, I think, the most sinister of the three.  I re-read it as I turned it into an e-book, and there were passages that raised my hair.

           The book’s subtitle is ‘The Czar’s Black Angel’, and the angel is the heroine, a witch, mistaken by the Czar for an angel – ‘black’ because of her dark hair and skin, so different from the blond angels painted on the Czar’s walls.

           But I am out of space, and if you want to discover what happens to the wizard, the devil, the Czar and the black angel, you’ll have to go here.

          Susan Price is the award winning writer of 60 books. More information on her and her books can be found at her website.  She also blogs here.
         Find all three of the Ghost World books, and her other e-books here.

3 comments:

Dan Holloway said...

Your cover art continues to boggle me. There's more than a hint of Burne-Jones about this one.

Susan Price said...

Thanks, Dan. That's my brother, Andrew Price, that is. You wait until you see what he's designed for me next!

Karen said...

Absolutely love the cover art, Sue.