|Picture from Lightspeed.|
Which at first I thought "yeah, sounds good, right, makes sense," but then I read Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream, which presents the counter to that idea not in argument form, but in the manner of a story that still sticks under my skin, in a good and creepy and unsettling and did I say "great" already? way.
Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream, by Maria Dahvana Headley, is a chilling, and I'm using that word exactly correctly, short story about what happens when two people fall in love and begin an affair -- the twist being that the two people are each married to magicians they are now cheating on.
The story alternates at first between softly beautiful passages outlining the start of the affair:
And darker passages about their spouse's discovery -- as one would expect -- of the affair:
The thing about this story is not just that it imagines such a story, and imagines what the magician and the witch, scorned and alone, plan to do, but that it places the story in a world where those kinds of things, magicians and witches, and coexist with lovers who meet at a wedding -- but then it turns that world darker and more scary.
It's that latter part that makes the story so memorable, and so worth reading.
There's really two ways you can go with magic, after all: you can go with magic being cuddly and cute, as in Narnia and Harry Potter. Even with its Dementors and Voldemort's lack of a nose, after all, the world of Hogwarts remains rooted in a fairy-dust, Disneyfied magical world of flying trains and jumping chocolate frogs and a hero who cannot, after all, be killed and so was never in any real danger after all.
There are no talking beavers or letter-bearing owls in Give Her Honey. There is this, on a date with a magician:
That is genius. The magic in Give Her Honey is not just powerful, but it is in the hands of people who get pissed off, it is unfathomable by normal people because it is wielded by someone who thinks it is romantic to choke his date with roses. This magic is real, more real than the magic in many other books, because it exists in the real world, and is not a trick: the roses, the rabbits, they aren't produced by sleight-of-hand but are actually in the woman's throat and you get a feel for how uncomfortable it would be to live with that kind of magic possible.
Then the story gives you a feel for what it would be like to live in a world with that kind of magic, magic that makes you uncomfortable and hurts at the best of times, now aimed at you:
I still find myself, some months after reading this story, thinking back on it, uncomfortably. It's worth reading, and even more worth listening to on the podcast where I heard it. Both are available here, on Lightspeed: Click to read or listen to Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream.