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

In 2021

First Lines

    1. It is the absolute shittiest day for a walk.
    2. There is a narrow street in Paris named Rue Gît-le-Cœur.
    3. Morning light blasts through the woods, making me squint.
    4. ‘What a beautiful Easter day,’ Grand Prince Dimitri Sergeyevich Markhov commented.
    5. There was once a rich merchant who lived at the edge of the woods, in a tiny town in the Hinterland.
    6. A blade flashed, kindled bright by moonshine.
    7. The first time our father brought Andrea to the Dutch House, Sandy, our housekeeper, came to my sister’s room and told us to come downstairs.
    8. Rosalyn had endured disappointing birthdays before, but never one in ankle-deep corpse sludge.
    9. He is coming on the Lord’s Day.
    10. If you do not believe in evil, you are doomed to live in a world you will never understand.
    11. When you’re a child, you think that your parents are the same as everyone else’s and that what happens in your house happens in other people’s homes too.
    12. It’s a quiet, lovely day, like every day in Three Graces, except one of the horses is sick.
    13. No recipe for hygge is complete without candles.
    14. I woke to the promise of a storm.
    15. What’s a little girl like you doing so close to the front lines?
    16. This water is fierce.
    17. From the moment of his election as president on November 6, 1860, Lincoln confronted issues of policy and strategy even though he would not take office for almost four months.
    18. Miles, Lord Marshall, had never wanted to come down here in the first place.
    19. He’s a dead thing.
    20. I love the goblin market.
    21. And to think — Primrose tried not to be grim — that only a few moments ago I felt misled by the claim that this is the biggest wheystation in the South Pacific.
    22. You’re not going to believe me.
    23. Sparks of magic drift through the inn walls, chased by moonlight and shadows.
    24. I like to imagine there were more of us in the beginning.
    25. When they asked her about the Vanderbilts and Belmonts, about their celebrations and depredations, the mansions and balls, the lawsuits, the betrayals, the rifts — when they asked why she did the extreme things she’d done, Alva said it all began quite simply: Once there was a desperate young woman whose mother was dead and whose father was dying almost as quickly as his money was running out.
    26. It’s rare that a story begins at the beginning.
    27. The bus depot in Denver smells like gasoline and asphalt, unwashed bodies and stale coffee.
    28. Havenfall is my home.
    29. War has often been called a game, with good reason.
    30. Wren had never seen a worse radial fracture.
    31. The knock of a pulley hitting the deck made me blink, and suddenly the white-washed world around me came rushing back.
    32. The gentleman in seat 2D was in medical distress when he boarded, the flight attendant is sure of it.
    33. Looking down at the boy strapped to the metal table before her, Kiva Meridan leaned in close and whispered, ‘Take a deep breath.’
    34. Dylan was six hours old when I noticed a mark behind his left ear the size of a thumbprint.
    35. That September of 1901, four years after Ilmari left for America, both for its opportunity and the fear of being drafted into the Russian army, the district was still without a teacher.
    36. I’ve always considered myself to be, basically, a lucky person.
    37. ‘How are things going at school, Declan?’ I asked.
    38. ‘Ophelia, if it was your last day on earth and you wanted to dress for the occasion, would you wear the potentially-too-short black dress or the hilarious Zelda T-shirt of an ocarina that says ‘Make It Rain’?’
    39. Seated opposite me in the railway carriage, the elderly lady in the fox-fur shawl was recalling some of the murders that she had committed over the years.
    40. I think you’re the one I spoke to on the phone, the librarian with a voice so soft that I went out and bought myself a cashmere sweater.
    41. The prey wasn’t meant to be a child.
    42. There’s a storm coming.
    43. Though the night is flush with stars, the sky still seems like a lid of earth closing atop a grave.
    44. There were two mistakes young men would make when they would first pick up a scythe: they would try to do all the work with their arms, and they would make their swathes far too wide.
    45. ‘Spread your legs and bend over.’
    46. I prefer metal to people, which is why the forge is my safe space.
    47. There was clear sight for miles.
    48. You see it all the time on television.
    49. ‘What’s two plus two?’
    50. Dark water reflected the line of gas lamps along the path, the rippling lights echoing the stars stretching overhead.
    51. The first time Adrian Rizzo met her father, he tried to kill her.
    52. Standing on the edge of a crowded road, I looked down onto the rolling fields and abandoned farms of the Tula Valley and got my first glimpse of the Shadow Fold.
    53. Two weeks we’d been in Cofton, and I was still getting lost.
    54. I stood on a carved stone balcony, arms spread, shivering in my cheap robes, and tried to put on a good show.
    55. Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.
    56. It began with a comet.
    57. Picture it — the exact coordinates where Charlotte’s life will change and never change back: a table in the Seattle Public Library.
    58. Zayne stood only a few feet from me, the surprisingly cool July breeze lifting the edges of his blond hair off bare shoulders.
    59. The trees have to be tied down by sunset.
    60. The sun begins its descent beyond the Taygetus mountains, filling the sky with a golden glow as the honor of my family balances upon my shoulders.
    61. Murder is wrong, of course.
    62. Imagine, if you will, dear reader, the Louvre in Paris, France, in the days before it became a museum: an enormous marble palace stretching along the banks of the Seine.
    63. The sun skimmed over yellowing leaves and filtered through the branches.
    64. A blade flashed, kindled bright by moonshine.
    65. I should not be able to do what I can do.
    66. ‘Klytemnestra! Have a care, girl’
    67. People who said libraries were a useless and outdated relic of the pre-Internet age had never spent time around the McClaine pack.
    68. Like Marty McFly, I woke up at exactly 10:28 a.m., to the song ‘Back in Time’ by Huey Lewis and the News.
    69. As the carriage rolled on, I looked over my shoulder out the tiny rear window, as if someone might be coming after me.
    70. I love being a princess.
    71. I wake up, get out of bed, say good morning to my plant, unwrap a protein bar, and drink a liter of bottled water.
    72. This was Oliver: The boy, fifteen, knelt on the ground, his chin against his chest, the soft undersides of his forearms pressing into his ears even as his fingers dug into the thatch of messy hair at the back of his head.
    73. They were dancers.
    74. The door creaked open behind me.
    75. Blood and feathers litter the arena.
    76. Four hundred years ago, in 1620, a cargo ship lowered its anchor on the eastern shore of North America.
    77. The docks were no place for a lady.
    78. The hardest part of this job isn’t the stealing.
    79. Beru gazed out at the Witnesses gathered before the altar, a sea of black and gold.
    80. In the summer of 1958, the murders that would come to be known as the ‘Bloodless Murders’ or the ‘Dracula Murders’ swept through the Midwest, beginning in Nebraska and sawing through Iowa and Wisconsin before turning back to my hometown of Black Deer Falls, Minnesota.
    81. Patricia was crying.
    82. Evangeline shoved the two-week-old newsprint into the pocket of her flowered skirt.
    83. The place where my mother’s house once stood is now a field of scorched dirt.
    84. It was Elodie Winslow’s favorite time of day.
    85. Five years ago, when I had just turned thirteen, I killed my best friend.
    86. Two nights before she was sent to the Wolf, Red wore a dress the color of blood.
    87. The rumours broke slowly but spread fast, like a bushfire from a raincloud.
    88. In the haunted summer of 2016, an unaccustomed heat wave struck the Siberian tundra on the edge of what the ancients once called the End of the Land.
    89. Hitler was thumbing his nose from just across the Channel, and London had decided to move the children out again, all the ones who had come back and all the ones who had never gone.
    90. Retvenko leaned against the bar and tucked his nose into his dirty shot glass.
    91. Billy Summers sits in the hotel lobby, waiting for his ride.
    92. Ask me not if God exists, but why he’s such a prick.
    93. The man was dead.
    94. Sleeping Beauty is pretty much the worst fairy tale, any way you slice it.
    95. “The sky is a strange color.
    96. Ask me not if God exists, but why he’s such a prick.
    97. Madam Sauer was a witch.
    98. This is the story of a love triangle, I suppose you’d say — Arnie Cunningham, Leigh Cabot, and, of course, Christine.
    99. I am rarely surprised.
    100. Shelly Beukes stood at the bottom of the driveway, squinting up at our pink-sandstone ranch as if she had never seen it before.
    101. When a book runs, a librarian follows.
    102. I’d thought I could set things right in the Empire if only I’d had the means.
    103. “For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in town.”
    104. With the wind whipping a gale in the portal, Breen felt her grip on Marco’s hand start to slip.
    105. I respect a good checklist, but I’m beginning to think my mother went overboard.
    106. “Of course it was bloody raining.”
    107. “I, John Hathaway, state that this is a true and accurate testament of my conduct during the four years prior to this date, the sixth of June 1920.”
    108. “In the predawn darkness of August 26, 1929, in the back bedroom of a small house in Torrance, California, a twelve-year-old boy sat up in bed, listening.”
    109. “There is so much blood.”
    110. “The Dire Woods flashed by Daron’s window like a nightmare he knew well.”
    111. “The sun hadn’t set, but the moon hovered over the Curtea Domneasca like a curious orange eye.”
    112. “Once, not so long ago, Guinevere had ridden surrounded by armed soldiers and marveled at her power.”
    113. “The snow hissed against the windows, flakes visible in the harsh spotlights which ringed the building.”
    114. “In the week before their departure to Arrakis, when all the final scurrying about had reached a nearly unbearable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul.”
    115. “Dima heard the barn doors slam before anyone else did.”
    116. “They took me in my nightgown.”
    117. “Séverin Montagnet-Alarie stared down at the man kneeling before him.”
    118. “Pinch myself and say I AM AWAKE once an hour.”
    119. “From the front-turret window of Mada Vittora’s Paris townhouse, Anouk couldn’t see the fountain at the far end of Rue des Amants.”
    120. “It was a nice day.”