3 of 5 stars.
Some places are neither here nor there: Neverlands, Gloria Naylor’s Bailey’s Cafe, Harry Potter’s Charing Cross Station–they are those places in between worlds where lost peoples go to find themselves or to lose themselves forever. These are dreamworlds where the dreamer sets the rules whether consciously or not, and their avatar reveals a truth or clue. This tale shows one such world, a city in the Borderlands. The Borderlands straddle the divide between the technological, magic-less human lands and the magic-rich Elfin lands. In the Borderlands, machines don’t work and magic is spotty at best.
Socks is a nameless runaway, without a past, without a clear future. She’s taken in by a young gang-family of squatting misfits and orphans who name her for the debilitating condition crippling her feet. She urges to sing, but barely speaks.
A mysterious beaten and raped girl is chased into the alley beside the squat. Socks and then the rest of the squatters help the new girl, Perdita, escape her pursuers. But then they largely reconsider after feeling her abrasive manner. Socks again steps forward to give Perdita a chance after hearing her story. Perdita surprisingly urges Socks to sing …
This tale appears in Street Magicks edited by Paula Guran. I received this new anthology from Netgalley. The short story was originally published in The Essential Bordertown [Tor, 1998]. I’ve previously read this author’s “Miss Carstairs and the Merman”.
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