“Curled in a concrete alcove that had once been a doorway, Xhea watched the City man make his awkward way through the market tents, dragging a ghost behind him. Magic sparkled above his head like an upturned tulip, deflecting the heavy rain and letting it pour to the ground to trace a circle in the puddles at his feet. He was, of course, watching her.
“It was not his attention that had caught Xhea’s notice, nor his poor attempt to blend into the crowd, but the ghost tethered to him with a line of energy more felt than seen. The dead girl couldn’t have been much older than Xhea herself—sixteen, Xhea supposed, perhaps seventeen—and she floated an arm’s span above the man’s head like a girl-shaped helium balloon.”
–Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith
Strong writing and a hint at Sumner-Smith’s ability to show not tell, this opener may not grab you by the throat, but it does do important work establishing the rules of this world from sentence one. This is a world with ghosts, we learn in that first sentence. This is a world with magic, we learn in the second. That it is an apocalyptic, slightly dystopian world that will revolve around two very different women, we learn in the following paragraphs.
Sumner-Smith’s debut is a strong one, and worth a read for those who enjoy: ghosts, magic, ruins, subway tunnels, suspense, conspiracies, female friendship, and zombies. (Jesus, I thought when they first appear, magic, ghosts and zombies? But it works. And I suspect the zombies are going to be an interesting puzzle piece in the trilogy’s arc, though they were not here.)
Would you read this based on the opener?
Full review coming on 1000 Ways to End the World this Thursday.