Tuesday, July 21, 2020

"Opium and Absinthe"

Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, completing her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction.

Kang applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Opium and Absinthe, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Water sleeps, and the enemy is sleepless.
-Count Dracula

That very afternoon, she met Mr. John O’Toole.

He arrived at the house on Madison looking as he ought. His clothes were neat and clean but not fine enough to be confused with those who lived there. He had a brown beard speckled with gray, neatly trimmed, nice brown eyes. His eyebrows were permanently in the angry position, squashing the expanse between them into a narrow crease. He appeared in an odd twilight of age, neither young nor old. He lacked that lithe elasticity seen in younger men, but his biceps stretched out his jacket as a fleshy warning to everyone that his punch could fracture a jaw. A pistol was at his hip, and his voice was low, serious. When he introduced himself to Tillie, he did not smile. He only bowed slightly and made no pleasantries about the weather or the trolley strike repercussions in the news that day.

As Ada was perpetually nearby, she was introduced next.

“Ada Clancy,” she said primly.

“Miss.” John nodded, and his eye twitched. It almost looked like a wink that he had reeled back in at the last moment.
This is the beginning of Chapter 7. We know by now this is a murder mystery, and that Tillie is limited in her ability to solve her beloved sister's murder by her status--being a confined, wealthy woman at the turn of last century.

We meet the new guard for Tillie's family, we see him through Tillie's eyes and as yet another barrier to her freedom. Though the snippet itself doesn't give you a sense of what the entire story is about, it's a great example of how the description of a character can be obscured just enough so that you can't tell if this guy is good, or bad. And so, we enter in yet another possible antagonist or protagonist into the story. Soon enough, readers will wonder if Mr. O'Toole is manipulative and responsible for the most reprehensible of human behaviors...but you have to finish the book to be sure.

I also love that the sexual tension between Ada and John is immediate. John is not made of steel and stone. He has human wants and needs, that tiny twitch of the eye is all we need to know that he's susceptible to manipulation himself.

There you go! Hope you enjoy the book and find out for yourself if John is to be trusted with their lives, or not!
Learn more about the book and author at Lydia Kang's website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue