4 of 5 stars.
Drug addiction and withdrawal, with its mental and emotional peaks and valleys, filters this tale about an unknown other’s life-threatening reliance on magic. Through it all, an elderly Good Samaritan seeks to help and/or stop both strangers with tough love. The analogy of drug use to magical compulsion remains under-emphasized to good effect.
Casual thief and homeless junkie, Thomas, creates a withdrawal nest for himself in the back of an unlocked garage. Old Ms. Berkley offers a cot and food to her garage denizen as long as he continues to straighten up. Eventually, he earns house privileges and then moves into the basement. In payment, she asks that he run some errands for her to track down occult symbols popping up all over the derelict sections of town. Someone’s trying to create a supernatural zone within the forgotten town . . .
This tale appears in Street Magicks edited by Paula Guran. I received this new anthology from Netgalley. The short story was originally published in Supernatural Noir [Dark Horse, 2011]. I’ve previously reviewed this author’s “After Moreau”.
[Check out my other reviews here.]