Wednesday, July 06, 2016

A dark tangle

It was as if dawn had been told to come quicker on that side, as if the greater emptiness of the streets sucked the light in. What watchers you noticed may as well have been dispassionate observers from some austere alternative, so opaque were their regards. Destitutes lying but not asleep under leaves in a graveyard, marking you from their locations, cosied up to the railings as if to give the dead their room. In a chair by her open doorway a woman waited for the sun and nodded as your escorts took you past. You cried out because something terrible clawed from her mouth, a dark tangle, as if something hook-footed was emerging from her and she didn't care.

"Hush," Drobe said. "We have to be quick and quiet."

To the east there are beetles the size of hands and their shells tell fortunes. If you boil them you can chew their dead legs, as did the woman, and suck out narcotic blood. But you didn't know that then.
— from This Census-Taker, by China MiĆ©ville.

It's a short book, 140 pages, I'm just past halfway. It's bloody terrifying. Not for any really tangible horror. It's slow, dense passages like the above, and suddenly their implications set in.

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