EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT — MAGICIENNE: A NOVEL by NING CAI & DON BOSCO
MAGICIENNE: A NOVEL
by Ning Cai & Don Bosco
Paperback available November 2016
Imagine me at five years old. I am Angel of the Morning, and the awful smelly end of Two Hills is my whole world.
I live in a house at the end of South Street, and have always been here as far back as I can remember. We have few neighbours. Very few. If I have to guess why, I’d say it’s the sick smell that comes in from the old factories on the other side of the slope. All day and most of the night. In fact it’s worse at night. They have poor workers running the machines while the rest of the world sleeps. Or try to. It could be toxic. Maybe it’s slowly killing us or making us sick. But not yet.
What doesn’t kill you makes you wonder.
If you want to imagine our house, think of a soggy cardboard box with a roof. The walls outside are a dirty shade of grey. From the paint and also how the dirt and dust have built up over the however many years before I came along.
Inside, it’s mostly shadows and stuffy corners and old books. Lots of old books. I’m too young to read them properly and I’m always disappointed that there aren’t more pictures. Hardly any at all. Lots of numbers, though. I wonder what these books are about. What secrets they hide. What mysteries they teach. What stories they tell.
Also, imagine lots of locked cupboards everywhere. There’s plenty of stuff inside there but I don’t know what. Sometimes I will rattle the locks just to see if I can open them like that. Never any luck. No one is careless here. Locking up is a virtue. There are only three cupboards around the house that aren’t locked, and I get bored with them.
It is like a strange kingdom. If you want to imagine our house, think of a cave where a never ending stream of spiders and rats and big bugs wander around. Think of how every other evening we go out to the back yard and burn a stack of paper, all covered with handwriting, and we stand around until every last scrap is totally burnt up.
I am five and they are maybe sixty or older. I have no way of knowing. They say they are my aunts, and I believe them, I have no reason not to, not yet. Not ever.
If you want to imagine what they look like, think two women, the same height, both with short hair, both always clearing their throats, the same wrinkled skin. They wear old dresses, very often grey and brown and dark blue, that seem to come from another place, another time, another world. It makes them blend into the dark walls of the house. As if they’re playing hide and seek.
They never tell me their names. I’m too young to know any better but still I sense, in my childish way, that there’s something unfair about that.
They have too many secrets but I have none.
MAGICIENNE by Ning Cai & Don Bosco is published by Marshall Cavendish. The paperback will be available in mid-November 2016. Look out for details soon at the Super Cool Books website. Ning’s website is here.