Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"The Necromancer's House"

Christopher Buehlman is an author of genre-bending literary horror novels, the first of which, Those Across the River, was a finalist for Best Novel at the 2012 World Fantasy Awards. He is also the winner of the Bridport Prize for Poetry in 2007, and his alter-ego, Christophe the Insultor, has a substantial cult following at renaissance festivals across the United States.

Buehlman applied the Page 69 Test to The Necromancer's House, his third book, and reported the following:
So you want to see what’s in the book? I’m afraid all you’ll find in the box where the book should be is a Russian cavalry officer’s revolver, one bullet and a straight razor. Put the bullet in the chamber and spin it. You know what to do next. If you’re still with us, the book will appear. Use the razor to cut yourself, where doesn’t matter, and bleed down into the inlaid horsehair of the title. That done, the book will open to exactly the page you need, and God or gods help you should you actually try to use the spell it gives you. It isn’t called The Book of Sorrows for nothing.


You only want a peek into The Necromancer’s House?

Well, that’s a different matter.

I give it to you gratis.

Page 69, you say?

You naughty thing!

You should get along fine with Yuri, a Ukrainian spammer and minor wizard enslaved to an ancient witch who is just about to hunt down the owner of the book I thought you wanted to see.

It used to be hers, after all.

In any event, welcome to Yuri’s shitty Kiev apartment. Don’t pet the cat-it’s a nervous little beast!
The room gets colder.

The cat almost hisses, remembers what happened to it the last time it did, and curls itself around its master’s feet, its tail flicking between those heels-up feet and the sooty footprints on the pink flip- flops beneath them.

Now the man turns in his chair and looks at the window.

She’s here.

He looks away quickly. His palms grow moist.

He anticipates the sound just before he hears it.

The sound of an iron pot scraping against the cheap stucco below the sill, scraping like a rowboat against a pier.

Baba Yaga riding through the night skies of Kiev, sitting in an iron pot, pushing it with a broom. Just like in bedtime fables. But she really is outside. Some part of her, anyway.

I’m nine stories up.


“Yes, little mother,” he manages, smoking again.

He is careful not to show his teeth when he speaks.

Put on your kerchief.

The cat shivers violently.

He pulls the sticking drawer out, pulls out a blue terrycloth hand towel. Is repulsed thinking about putting this over his eyes, but does so anyway, tilting his head back, holding it in place because God help him if it falls off and he sees her.

The crunching sound as the iron pot crumbles stucco.

Is there really a pot, or do I hear one because I expect to?

A bare foot on his gritty linoleum floor.

She is in the apartment now, he knows.
Learn more about the book and author at Christopher Buehlman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue