Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

In 2020

First Lines

    1. I wake up the same way I fell asleep: knife in hand, boots for a pillow, and Nameless.
    2. Nothing stinks quite like a corpse.
    3. The office is cool and sparsely decorated.
    4. The demon appears out of nowhere.
    5. I was eighteen years old, give or take a fairy-tale century, when I had my first kiss.
    6. I’m dead set on living my one life right, but I can’t say the same for my brother.
    7. Robin woke from another nightmare of trees and flame and gulped a deep breath as if she’d surfaced from the ocean.
    8. The rattling buzz of a bush plane awoke her that morning and, as it just so happened, Elisabeth had been dreaming of her sister.
    9. ‘Anna. Annacska. Wake up, my sweet.’
    10. I was in my sixth month when the girl came knocking.
    11. It’s a curious thing, to watch a town fall to the dead.
    12. This day is made for sailing.
    13. Another question mark bloomed on Celia’s forearm, bigger and bolder than the others.
    14. An east wind blew through his tangled hair, as soft and fragrant as Cersei’s fingers.
    15. The last two were a girl and her father who lived along the old eastern range on the side of a mountain they called the mountain that stands alone.
    16. The night it all ended, Vivian was alone.
    17. They’ve never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart.
    18. The prophet was drowning men on Great Wyk when they came to tell him that the king was dead.
    19. It was clearly his fault I’d punched him in the face.
    20. The frog wasn’t Tala’s fault this time.
    21. She is not mad.
    22. The day the Regalia Games truly began for me started out like any other.
    23. Two wine glasses are on the coffee table, evidence of a romantic night.
    24. The swallows skipped like flat stones across the surface of the infinity pool, their wings spread, and a lone woman in a gauzy beach coverup–what she might have called a kaftan if that word didn’t sound so matronly–watched them.
    25. In the long years of his existence, the number of times he had been summoned from Jigoku could be counted on one claw.
    26. Eight years of poison and murder and shit.
    27. My daughter didn’t have to testify against me.
    28. He drank his way across the narrow sea.
    29. Through the chilly curtain of sleet, in the intermittent wash of the great light on the jutting cliff to the south, the massive silhouette of bluff House loomed over Whiskey Beach.
    30. Preparations had taken weeks.
    31. In 1988, George H. W. Bush had just won the presidential election by inviting everyone to read his lips while Michael Dukakis lost it by riding in a tank.
    32. The Drain looked the same every time, with all the people screaming as they ran away from the giant dark cloud of chaos but never running fast enough.
    33. An evil transportation-hating monster had devoured my plane.
    34. I was dead. And then I wasn’t.
    35. Serefin Meleski inhabited the sliver of night that was rife for betrayal.
    36. I liked to think I was too emotionally evolved to get into an altercation at a one-gate airport involving a box of imported succulents and obscene gestures.
    37. I once believed that the hardest thing I would ever face would be a mountain of dirty laundry or polishing every piece of silver in my employer’s house, and then I was sent to finishing school.
    38. I got a story to tell you.
    39. The only thing more dangerous than an idea is a belief.
    40. I am Ana.
    41. ‘The gates are just ahead,’ said Gregor.
    42. The blood on my hands is sticky.
    43. ‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ began Professor Damian Bieleć, ‘we live among legends.
    44. It’s a good day for shark hunting.
    45. Not so many years ago, Shenya the Widow was a void-cold killer.
    46. Alexander Hamilton claimed Nevis in the British West Indies as his birthplace, although no surviving records substantiate this.
    47. Astrid Strick had never liked Barbara Baker, not for a single day of their forty-year acquaintance, but when Barbara was hit and killed by the empty, speeding school bus at the intersection of Main and Morrison streets on the eastern side of the town roundabout, Astrid knew that her life had changed, the shock of which was indistinguishable from relief.
    48. The shaking started around three in the morning, and it happened that I was already awake because I’d nursed Owen at two, and then, instead of going back to sleep, I’d lain there brooding about the fight I’d had at lunch with my sister, Vi.
    49. The first thing they did was show their tits.
    50. If you were to ask me what I liked most about being an up-and-coming criminal in the year 2056, I’d probably point you to the simple things.
    51. It was the time of year when the sunrise still had frost on it.
    52. I like to imagine there were more of us in the beginning.
    53. If it had been a normal launch, they would have made a spectacle of it all.
    54. It’s rare that a story begins at the beginning.
    55. From the moment he’d seen the results of his aptitude testing at the age of thirteen, Jalzarnin Rah-Griffolm had set his sights on one day being named the Lord High Priest of Khalpar, and he had never for a moment doubted his destiny.
    56. War has often been called a game, with good reason.
    57. The disruptor blast hits the Betraskan right in her chest.
    58. When Liam Sullivan died, at the age of ninety-two, in his sleep, in his own bed with his wife of sixty-five years beside him, the world mourned.
    59. The morning one of the lost twins returned to Mallard, Lou LeBon ran to the diner to break the news, and even now, many years later, everyone remembers the shock of sweaty Lou pushing through the glass doors, chest heaving, neckline darkened with his own effort.
    60. ‘Snoopy’s out again,’ Private Hillman said.
    61. On a cold Sunday evening in early 1957–the very day, in fact, that Dwight David Eisenhower took the oath of office for the second time as President of the United States of America–Sarah Dewhurst waited with her father in the parking lot of the Chevron gas station for the dragon he’d hired to help on the farm.
    62. It is a time of famine, a time of hungering want that threatens to eat you from the inside out, leaving you good only to wait for the coming of death.
    63. A light chill rain but she doesn’t want to come inside just yet.
    64. I blinked open achy, swollen eyes and stared straight at the pale, translucent face of a ghost.
    65. Her name was Magda.
    66. Little Thomas didn’t have time to finish his stewed apples.
    67. ‘Hold still!’ Fleur barks. ‘I might cut you.’
    68. Cricket was sure of only one thing.
    69. And I could only have seen her there on the stone bridge, a dancer wreathed in ghostly blue, because that was the way they would have taken her back when I was young, back when the Virginia earth was still red as brick and red with life, and though there were other bridges spanning the river Goose, they would have bound her and brought her across this one, because this was the bridge that fed into the turnpike that twisted its way through the green hills and down the valley before bending in one direction, and that direction was south.
    70. ‘We’ve been waiting for an hour.’
    71. Greg Garcy leers at me from his mug shot: bastard doesn’t know I’ve nailed him yet.
    72. I had a bad feeling, even before I left home.
    73. From the roof of Golvahar, Soraya could almost believe that she existed.
    74. When he’d been a boy back on Earth, living under the open blue of the sky, one of his mothers had spent three years suffering uncontrolled migraines.
    75. This body
    76. Flick and catch of the lighter, fire blooming between my fingers.
    77. Basia Merton had been a gentle man, once.
    78. Dean hurries past the Phoenix Theatre, dodges a blind man in dark glasses, steps onto Charing Cross Road to overtake a slow-moving woman and pram, leaps a grimy puddle and swerves into Denmark Street where he skids on a sheet of black ice.
    79. Immanuelle Moore knelt at the foot of the altar, palms pressed together in prayer, mouth open.
    80. Still hours of dark to go when I left the house that morning.
    81. A year after the Callisto attacks, almost three years after he and his crew had headed out for Ilus, and about six days after they’d gotten back, James Holden floated next to his ship and watched a demolition mech cut her apart.
    82. Before the great earthquake of 1906, I was not haunted, but it would be inaccurate to say my mind was entirely at peace.
    83. ‘You have no fucking right to this!’ the owner of the Hornblower shouted, not for the first time.
    84. ‘Look at me. Hey.’
    85. Outside the walls of the castle, standing before the moat, looking out at the stream that separates us from our subjects, there is a woman in a box.
    86. The habitation ring of the transfer station at Lagrange-5 was three times the diameter of the one Drummer had lived in on Tycho, half a lifetime ago.
    87. Sometimes keeping secrets was the hardest thing in the world.
    88. The stranger came out of the sea like a water ghost, barefoot and wearing the scars of his journey.
    89. Never come to Hellfire House without wearing a mask.
    90. This was the time of day when I most wished I were able to sleep.
    91. To travel across West Texas at night is to pass through bursts of bright and seas of shadow, thee sudden punctuations of towns clinging to the highways as they slash through the scrub.
    92. The universe is always stranger than you think.
    93. Coriolanus released the fitful of cabbage into the pot of boiling water and swore that one day it would never pass his lips again.
    94. Dark clouds gathered overhead.
    95. In the myriadic year of our Lord — the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death! — Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.
    96. No one in the smoke-filled gambling hall knew that a killer walked among them.
    97. In the myriadic year of our Lord — the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, our Resurrector, the full-pitying Prime! — the Reverend Daughter Harrowhark Nonagesimus sat on her mother’s sofa and watched her cavalier read.
    98. That bastard was leaving me again.
    99. I keep my earbuds shoved into my ears on the minibus from Geneva Airport.
    100. The floating market takes shape amid a flutter of torches and spellfire, each pinprick of light tailed by its glittering reflection in the river beneath.
    101. Father told me I’m broken.
    102. When the Moon rose in the Third Northern Hall I went to the Ninth Vestibule to witness the joining of three Tides.
    103. The letter begging for lifesaving help lay untouched for weeks.
    104. The orange gas giant, Zeus, hung low above the horizon, huge and heavy and glowing with a ruddy half-light.
    105. We’re leaving the world behind.
    106. Ghosts travel in packs.
    107. Séverin glanced at the clock: two minutes left.
    108. Books ran when they grew restless, when they grew unruly, or when they grew real.
    109. Séverin Montagnet-Alarie looked out over what had once been the Seven Sins Garden.
    110. It goes a long way back, some twenty years.
    111. The girl wakes up in someone else’s bed.
    112. Sometimes in big Hollywood movies they’ll have these crazy chase scenes where somebody jumps or gets thrown from a moving car.
    113. Arent Hayes howled in pain as a rock slammed into his massive back.
    114. Well, the sun was shining.
    115. The Arcane Wing was a cabinet of curiosities.
    116. Once upon a time, there were three sisters.
    117. My mother was screaming at the Comte. Again.
    118. The American West was not the most miserable land I had ever traveled, but it came quite near close to it.
    119. Nonna Maria buzzed around the kitchen like she’d guzzled every drop of espresso in our restaurant.
    120. My life began with a crime.
    121. My brother ruined a perfectly good run by saying, ‘Justine is pregnant.’
    122. There are towns like Pine Deep.
    123. Guinevere’s room was dark, night more a cloak than the bed curtains she never drew.
    124. Sitting on a bus that seemed to have a bad case of the hiccups, Breen Kelly rubbed at the drumming ache in her temple.
    125. The first day of my last summer in San Solano was clammier than a fever.
    126. I will save the world.
    127. I will save my brother.
    128. ‘Smile and circulate,’ Irene said through gritted teeth, drawing her skirts back from the blood that had spattered by her feet.
    129. The ether-lamps illuminated the wide tunnel with harsh brightness.
    130. I could not have written a more perfect man.
    131. The house had its way of holding them.
    132. ‘Oh dear,’ Linus Baker said, wiping the sweat from his brow.
    133. ‘I made an appointment to see him.’
    134. Apocalypses always kick off at the witching hour.
    135. Kris sat in the basement, hunched over her guitar, trying to play the beginning of Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man.’
    136. Why do we love fairy tales?
    137. At the end of a long and narrow street not far from the sea, right around the time of the spring equinox, the sun rose as a sliver between two skyscrapers.
    138. Annabelle Agnelli is trying to hold it together in the parking lot of Dick’s Drive-In.
    139. They weathered brutal winters, suffered diseases, and learned to cope with the resisting Native Americans.
    140. ‘It would appear that we are nearly out of time,’ Janine Silva said, eyeing her vintage Spiro Agnew wristwatch, and Connie Goodwin’s vision blurred with a surreal sense of déjà vu.