SH Flashback: “Talisman,” by Tracina Jackson-Adams

A new entry in my about-to-be-weekly-again Strange Horizons retrospective:

Talisman,” by Tracina Jackson-Adams
A story about touch-hunger, and violence, and coming of age in one of the old families, and a dangerous kind of magic. (Published in 2002.) (5,400 words.)

It's getting worse and worse these days. Nobody understands how hard it is to stop at just hitting. Nobody gives me any credit for that.

And nobody understands how damned good it feels to touch someone.

(See also the full list of Flashback stories.)

(I'm still behind on posting Flashback stories, but if all goes well, I'll catch up later this week.)




I like the way that this story handles gradual revelation: by the end of the first scene, it's only just beginning to become clear that this is not just an ordinary story of a horse-riding girl who gets distracted by a shirtless guy.

And I love the worldbuilding as it develops over the course of the story—the sense of a rich and strange history and a system of familial magic that isn't quite like anything I've seen elsewhere. (I know about the Morrigan from Irish mythology, but Cal's morrigan doesn't seem to be the same being.)

And I especially love the way the touch thing plays out—Cal's hunger for touch, and her knowledge of what will happen if she gives in to that hunger.

I think this story connects interestingly with our years-later unintended mini-theme of stories about violent women, and especially “Who in Mortal Chains.”

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