The 2017 Book Superlatives, Part II

Hello again! Welcome back to the 2017 Book Superlatives, Part II of II. (If you missed Part I, you can find it here.) We’ve got a lot of material to cover–at least 90% of it consists of fabulous quotes–so let’s just get started, shall we?

DISCLAIMERS:

1. Any novel or novella I read for the first time last year, whether it was written in 2017 or not, is eligible. (If you missed it, those books are listed here.)

2. All of these awards contain SPOILERS, many of them–Best Death, for instance–rather large spoilers. Read at your own risk.

3. I’m going to post a veritable shitload of Favorite Novel Quotes at the end of this post, like, it will be absurdly long. I post these because I love quotes, and because I think they’re a great way to draw readers in–they’ve certainly been a deciding factor for me on whether to buy a book or not–but if you happen to be the author of one of these quotes and do not wish it to be posted, please let me know and I will delete it immediately. (Also, unlike the rest of these awards, none of the quotes contain Big Spoilers, I don’t think, although there are a few moderate ones. Be your own judge, of course, but I don’t think anything here should ruin the book for you. I’d hope not, anyway, since that’s kind of the opposite of the point.)

With all that said, let’s get started.

FAVORITE HEROINE

Faith – The Lie Tree

This was difficult. Very difficult. I really connected to Jane/Pepper from A Closed and Common Orbit, and Delilah Bard (from both A Gathering of Shadows and The Conjuring of Light) is utterly delightful. But in the end I had to give this one to Faith because her arc is just so goddamn satisfying.

Faith begins as a Good Daughter, all loyalty and reluctant obedience. It can be a little frustrating, waiting for her to stand up for herself and rebel in earnest, but oh my God, is it worth it when she finally does. Because seriously, ALL OUT FURY AND VENGEANCE. Faith goes from being a good girl and repressed scientist to a gossip queen, a rat catcher, a private detective and ghost maker. She’s furious and cold and maybe a little mad, and it all works so, so brilliantly.

I was already invested in this story because, come on, feminist Victorian murder mystery? I mean, dude. But that moment that Faith’s all, “Okay, I’ll make you fuckers a ghost”–but more British–I was ALL IN.

Honorable Mentions: Jane/Pepper (A Closed and Common Orbit); Delilah Bard (A Gathering of Shadows/A Conjuring of Light); Sunny (Akata Witch); Nettie* (Wake of Vultures); Kia (Midnight Taxi Tango); Reza (Midnight Taxi Tango); Zan (The Stars Are Legion); Sidra (A Closed And Common Orbit); Arsinoe (Three Dark Crowns); Cecy (Sorcery & Cecilia); Kate (Sorcery & Cecelia); Cas (Zero Sum Game); Jack (Down Among the Sticks and Bones); Millie (Phantom Pains); Smooth Kitty (The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place); Essun (The Fifth Season); Petra (Beauty Queens); Nicole (Beauty Queens): Jennifer (Beauty Queens); Ana (Certain Dark Things)

*Nettie’s gender identity is not firmly pinned down in Wake of Vultures. She sometimes describes herself as a boy, other times as no particular gender, and uses female pronouns, at least in this book. I read her as a genderqueer heroine, hence her inclusion in this particular category. Cause, yeah. Nettie’s pretty great.

FAVORITE VILLAIN

TIE!

Agatha Lambent – The Lie Tree
Sydney – The Prey of Gods

Both villains here are like evil mirror versions of their heroic counterparts, which of course makes them great bad guys. In Agatha’s case, she’s pretty much a perfect flip of Faith: not only is she secretly a scientist, she’s also another woman pursuing vengeance. I really love Agatha’s motivations here; it makes her villainy so much more compelling.

Meanwhile, Sydney is an evil demigodess, and she’s just . . . fun. What’s interesting about Sydney is that in her initial introduction, I had no idea she was going to be the Big Bad, like, I was seriously getting sympathetic heroine vibes . . . and then she’s hella murdering this dude, and I was like . . . oh, oh, I see. But that makes sense: The Prey of Gods is all about the reversal of expectation, particularly when it comes to narrative structure. Chapter to chapter, I was constantly surprised by new developments. This is, hands down, the most unpredictable book I read all year, which was pretty delightful.

Honorable Mentions: Nick (Certain Dark Things); Rasida (The Stars Are Legion); Marline (Final Girls); The Cannibal Owl (Wake of Vultures); Dawna (Zero Sum Game); The Dead Father (Mapping the Interior); Schaffa (The Fifth Season); Mr. Pinscher and Mr. Stoop (The Shadow Cipher); Madame Appeline (A Face Like Glass)

CHIEF ASSHAT

Aspen’s Dad – Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies

This wasn’t easy, either. Faith’s father in The Lie Tree was a serious contender, as was literally almost every male character in Hex. Aspen, himself, was also a possibility. He is an incredibly unlikable narrator from the get-go . . . but, as it turns out, a lot of that is his father’s fault.

You see, Aspen’s Dad has been magically fucking around with his kid’s brain for pretty much his entire life, stealing so many emotions and memories that Aspen’s whole personality has clearly been rewired. Chief Asshat Dad, of course, protests its for Aspen’s own good, as he was supposedly taking away things that hurt his kid, but obviously there are huge consequences for stealing away all of somebody’s fear and grief at every opportunity. (Not to mention, Chief Asshat Dad doesn’t mind leaving negative emotions–like anger–when it’s directed towards his ex-wife.) Shit, Aspen is so mind-wiped that he thinks this immortal old witch is actually his grandmother. That is some EPICALLY bad parenting, dude.

Honorable Mentions: Aspen (Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies); Reverend Erasmus Sunderly (The Lie Tree); Colton Mathers (Hex); Steve (Hex); Grim (Hex); Lady Isobel (Ash); Davies (Ghost Talkers); Roy (Pasadena); The King and Queen (A Gathering of Shadows); Sunny’s Dad (Akata Witch); George (The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club)

FAVORITE SIDEKICK

TIE!

Teo – Two Serpents Rise
CheckerZero Sum Game

Teo is my absolute favorite in Two Serpents Rise. She is our protagonist’s sassy, lesbian BFF, and she has no problem calling Caleb out on his shit, which, yeah. Caleb definitely needs that. Best of all, though, Teo lives! There was a moment or two where I was worried on that score, but thankfully, I don’t have to go set anything on fire or write angry “how could you do this me” letters to Max Gladstone. I mean, that’s always a plus.

But I liked Checker quite a bit too. He’s the funny nerd sidekick–who doesn’t love one of those–and I’m pretty interested in finding out more about his past. What I especially loved, though, is that at one point, Checker has to evade all these government agency types and does so in his wheelchair without help from anyone, like, we avoid the more typical, ablest narrative where “wheelchair” equals “helpless” or “trapped” or “sitting duck.” I thought that was awesome, and I’m looking forward to more of Checker in future books.

Honorable Mentions: Sazed (The Final Empire); Blue (A Closed And Common Orbit); Tak (A Closed And Common Orbit); Mrs. Richardson (Ghost Talkers); Fox (The Bone Witch); Tjuan (Phantom Pains); Paul Clay (The Lie Tree); Cosine Kid (The Rise of Renegade X)

BEST DEATH

Anat – The Stars Are Legion

The Stars Are Legion had a great opening hook, but–for me–quickly slowed down in the first third of the novel. Right up until Anat got murdered, that is, and then shit picked up fast.

Initially, Anat is a major player and a serious antagonist to Zan, but she gets ambushed when she least expects it, and her death happens so quickly it’s like HOLY SHIT. I mean, I was kind of expecting something bad to happen, but the way it happens here, I mean, damn. It’s a shocking, brutal moment that pretty effectively sets the tone for the rest of the novel.

Honorable Mentions: Martin (The Winter People); Auntie (The Winter People); Nick (Certain Dark Things); Molly’s Parents (The Murders of Molly Southborne); The Grand Steward (A Face Like Glass); Penberthy (The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club)

JIMMY, NOOOOO!

Ana – Certain Dark Things

There’s a lot to like about Certain Dark Things–especially the world building, my GOD, the various types of vampires and vampiric cultures are so COOL–but the only character I truly cared about was Ana. Like, the others were okay, but Ana was everything; I would have happily read spinoff after spinoff about Ana. Clearly, I was devastated when she died, especially since it wasn’t even, like, a productive death, where I could at least take some solace in the fact that she’d killed the bad guy or something.

Can’t lie: I was pretty bummed by this one.

Honorable Mentions: Nidget (Sorcerer to the Crown); Calla (A Conjuring of Light); Hastra (A Conjuring of Light); Lenos (A Conjuring of Light); Brand (Phantom Pains); Mr. Blunt (Raising Stony Mayhall); Mrs. Richardson (Ghost Talkers); Rask (The Fifth Season); Heresmith (The Fifth Season); Penny (Zero Sum Game); The Tower (The Shadow Cipher)

ULTIMATE SURVIVOR

Stony Mayhall – Raising Stony Mayhall

Admittedly, Stony starts out life as a zombie baby, so it makes sense that he survives all sorts of things that would kill less supernatural protagonists. OTOH, by the end of the book, Stony actually burns alive. (Burns undead? You know what I mean.) He is literally a bag of bones shoved into a Halloween costume, but he survives. It’s hard to even explain without discussing the whole book in considerably more detail than I feel like doing right now, but let’s just say that I was extremely impressed with how much time and effort goes into the magical evolution of zombies in this book. I am generally not a fan of zoms who can, like, fly and shit, but this book really sells me on just what’s possible for an impossible creature. And that’s pretty cool.

Honorable Mentions: Zan (The Stars Are Legion); Arsinoe (Three Dark Crowns); Katherine (Three Dark Crowns); Jane/Pepper (A Closed And Common Orbit); Syenite (The Fifth Season); Jennifer (Final Girls); Lila (A Conjuring of Light); Nettie (A Wake of Vultures); Cas (Zero Sum Game); Elkin (The Prey of Gods); Muzi (The Prey of Gods); The Miss Teen Contestants (Beauty Queens); Hamlet and Romeo (Such Sweet Sorrow)

CREEPIEST MOMENT

Dead Father’s Teeth – Mapping the Interior

Sometimes, the creepiest moments are just these quick flashes, these solitary moments that, for whatever reason, stick with you. There were definitely a few nominees for that this year, but ultimately I had to go with the image of the narrator’s dead father coming out of his son’s bedroom with “wrinkly black muscle, like a worm” where his teeth should be. Like, shit, man. That one stuck.

Honorable Mentions: Eyes everywhere–even inside the mom’s mouth (Hammers on Bone); Paralyzed while the recycler monster eats people alive (The Stars Are Legion); Nick enslaves human girl and forces her to say her name is Atl (Certain Dark Things); Jaydon forces a sleeping Tyler to hear Katherine’s words over and over (Hex); The body covered in ants (Hex); Martin finds Gertie’s hair nailed to the wall (The Winter People); Dead Gertie knocks from inside the closet (The Winter People); Basically any of the cockroach scenes (Midnight Taxi Tango)

BEST TWIST

TIE!

Grandma isn’t Aspen’s grandmother – Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies
Pietyr throws Katherine down the Breccia Domain . . . and she lives! – Three Dark Crowns

While reading Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, I was pretty sure Aspen’s Dad had stolen some memories from him. Like his grief over his cousin dying, for instance; that one was pretty easy to figure out. And I was relatively sure that Grandma was evil in some way or another, but it never even occurred to me that Aspen’s head could be so screwed up that he had mistaken Grandma for his actually grandmother. That twist came, and I was like WHAT? It’s supported, but I didn’t see it coming at all. That’s always a nice feeling.

Meanwhile, Three Dark Crowns has a bit of a slower build than I, personally, cared for, but man, when shit gets going? It gets crazy. I’m pretty sure I did a whole hand-to-the-mouth thing when Pietyr tossed Katherine over the edge, like, I was having a whole “they killed Kenny” moment . . . only to reveal she lives when she, like, floats back up to the surface, unharmed. Dude. I was unprepared. It was amazing.

Honorable Mentions: Slim is already dead and in the trunk (A Rage in Harlem); Auntie didn’t die in the fire (The Winter People); Auntie was killed and skinned, not Sarah (The Winter People); Arsinoe is a Poisoner (Three Dark Crowns); Prunella sacrifices Nidget to save Zacharias (Sorcerer to the Crown); IAN isn’t an AI (Six Wakes); Hiro has multiple killer mindmaps inside him (Six Wakes); Marsh is alive and a Steel Inquisitor (The Final Empire); Kana is one of the Faceless (The Bone Witch); Spells Are Sentient (Phantom Pains); Agatha Lambent is the real natural scientist, not her husband (The Lie Tree); Syenite, Damaya, and Essen are all the same person (The Fifth Season); There is no moon (The Fifth Season); Uncle Edgar betrays the kids (The Shadow Cipher); Gio is still alive, not to mention dating the hot capoeira instructor (Midnight Taxi Tango)

BEST BOO-YAH MOMENT

Nettie cuts off a rapist werewolf’s dick – Wake of Vultures

I mean, I’m not even sure what I can add to that. It’s just such a YEEAAH moment in a book chockfull of fun, gory violence and hard-hitting action scenes. If you like your westerns weird and full of creepy monsters, explorations of gender identity, explorations of sexual identity, and the badass volume turned up to 11 . . . well, honestly, I don’t know if there’s ever been a book like that before. But Wake of Vultures is definitely here now. You should read it immediately.

Honorable Mentions: Faith fakes her father’s ghost (The Lie Tree); Ava Oneal confronts William Covington Hanover, breaks his finger, and calls the police–and their clubs–on him (The Shadow Cipher); Undead Gertie kills Auntie with an axe (The Winter People)

BEST OPENING LINE OR PASSAGE

I remember throwing away a child.
That’s the only memory I know for certain is mine. The rest is a gory blackness. All I have, then, are things I’ve been told are true:
My name is Zan.
I once commanded a great army.
My mission was to destroy a world that does not exist.
I’m told my army was scattered, or eaten, or blown apart into a thousand twinkling bits of debris, and I went missing.
The Stars Are Legion

At any given opportunity, there’s usually at least 30 books I want to read. I’ve developed a terrible book buying habit over the years, buying novels well before I finish the last batch, but even my addiction has limits. I have to make choices about what I’m going to pick up next. In one such trip, I almost decided against The Stars Are Legion, not because I wasn’t interested, but because I was interested in SO MANY other things . . . and then I read this opening.

People. This opener is why I ultimately bought this book. It hooks you fast. It immediately sets up all kinds of mysteries. Who is the child? Why was he or she thrown away? Is this person’s name actually Zan? Did they once command a great army? Was their mission really to destroy a world? What happened to this army, and where did this protagonist go when they went missing? That’s a lot of damn intrigue, and Kameron Hurley sets it up in, like, 50-75 words on the first page.

This. This is what I aspire to.

Honorable Mentions:

It is traditional to end with the Last Girl, the sole survivor, a young woman in a blood-spattered tank top. She drops her chain saw, her sawed-off shotgun, her crowbar—these details differ—and stumbles out of the ramshackle house and into the light. Perhaps the house is burning. Dawn glows on the horizon, and the ghouls have been defeated (for now—all happy endings being temporary). Perhaps she’s found by her fellow survivors and taken to an enclave, a fortress teeming with heavily armed government troops, or at the very least gun-toting civilians, who will provide shelter until the sequel. Perhaps this enclave is located in Easterly, Iowa, about sixty miles northwest of the ruins of Des Moines. Perhaps the girl’s name is Ruby.
Raising Stony Mayhall

Delilah Bard—always a thief, recently a magician, and one day, hopefully, a pirate—was running as fast as she could.
A Conjuring of Light

I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.
All Systems Red

I trusted one person in the entire world. He was currently punching me in the face.
Zero Sum Game

His birth certificate reads Muzikayise McCarthy, but nobody calls him that except his grandfather and anyone looking for a busted lip. Though right now, you could curse his name a million times, and he wouldn’t hear you.
He’s too busy mourning the fate of his dick.
The Prey of Gods

Maggie always was a fucking train wreck. Leave it to her to end up facedown in a swimming pool on the hottest day of summer.
Pasadena

Brandy and Theo were about to break up. They just didn’t know it yet.
Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies

FAVORITE QUOTE

“I’m the feller that’s going to kill you.”
“You’re not a feller.”
“That’s not yours to decide.”
Wake of Vultures

It’s just . . . it’s just so perfect. Westerns (weird or otherwise) have a very specific style. In the best westerns, you can practically hear the tumbleweed in the dialogue, and Wake of Vultures has that for me. The voice is so strong and so consistent throughout the book. I read these words, and I can easily see Nettie on screen, a Durango Ranger about to kill some monstrous folk. How amazing would it be to actually get to see that, to have a badass supernatural western show with a protagonist who says, out loud, that no one decides her gender but her.

I’m saying, I’d be stoked. This is the direction I’d love to see westerns go: weird, wild, and queer as hell.

Finally, here is where we get into quotes. (Prepare yourselves, people. SO MANY QUOTES.) I capped the number at five per book, which–with certain reads–ended up being stupidly hard. Thus MOST INSANELY QUOTABLE BOOK is a four-way tie this year between The Shadow Cipher, Beauty Queens, Midnight Taxi Tango, and A Face Like Glass.

ALL THE QUOTES

Three dark queens
Are born in a glen,
Sweet little triplets
Will never be friends

Three dark sisters
All fair to be seen
Two to devour
And one to be Queen
Three Dark Crowns

“I want revenge,” she whispers, and her fingers trail bloody streaks down Natalia’s arms. “And then I want my crown.”
Three Dark Crowns

He doesn’t question the gesture, doesn’t challenge it. It’s clear that under that ugly mug, there’s a thumbtack brain–sharp, small, and specialized–and it recognizes a man who means business.
Hammers on Bone

I can’t abide mysteries. Give me something to punch any day of the week, something clean.
– Hammers on Bone

“How do you expect self-respecting gumshoes like me to tremble in your presence if all you do is repeat yourself and beat up women?”
Hammers on Bone

“You want something, bruv? You ask. You ask me like I’m a person. When I say no, you fuck off. What you do to someone’s head and what you do to their meat, it isn’t much different,  you hear? You don’t take what you’re not given. Get me?”
Hammers on Bone

“Nonsense!” cried Lady Wythe. “You are precisely the kind of creature girls like best to swoon over. Dark, mysterious, quiet—for a young man who talks a great deal always seems a coxcomb. The very image of romance! Think of Othello.”
“His romance came to no good end,” said Zacharias.
Sorcerer to the Crown

“I do not like to take Mr. Wythe from such delightful society, but there is the matter of my lobster, you know.” Damerall’s manner was apologetic, but that of a man who is serene in his conviction of doing what is right. “A gentleman cannot keep a lobster waiting. You will understand, I am sure.”
Sorcerer to the Crown

“I shall go in what I am standing in,” said Mak Genggang. “A witch is always appropriate whatever her attire.”
Sorcerer to the Crown

“I am pleased to hear it,” said Mak Genggang. “It is no more than he deserves. I should advise you not to stop there, but set fire to his house, too, and sell his children to pirates. That is the only way he will learn to abandon his wicked ways.”
Sorcerer to the Crown

There should be a word. A word that means “daughter without a mother.” Her father is still alive. She can’t call herself an orphan. But moments like this, she feels like one, and she doesn’t know how to make it stop. She doesn’t know if it can stop.
Final Girls

Massachusetts has trees, but they’re wrong, more like bushes with delusions of grandeur than the comfortable, towering eucalyptus of her homeland. These are trees that show their bones. She doesn’t trust them. She would be a fool to trust them.
Final Girls

It is an old-fashioned thing, older and wilder and somehow more terrible than the graveyards of California, which are mossy and overgrown, but lack the weight of centuries. There are more dead people in that ground than are living people on this street, thinks Esther and shudders, unable to shake the feeling that something has gone utterly, catastrophically wrong.
Final Girls

If there’s no damage severe enough to require medical intervention, she might be able to keep her head down and keep her parents from seeking retribution. Once the dentist gets involved, it’s all over.
Final Girls

Delilah Bard had a way of finding trouble.
She’d always thought it was better than letting trouble find her, but floating in the ocean in a two-person skiff with no oars, no view of land, and no real resources save the ropes binding her wrists, she was beginning to reconsider.
A Gathering of Shadows

“It would be an interesting match . . .”
Kell kept his smile fixed. “I will stab you with this pin.”
A Gathering of Shadows

“I told you magic was a conversation—”
“You also said it was an ocean,” said Lila. “And a door, and once I think you even called it a cat—”
A Gathering of Shadows

“Please tell me this is easier to take off than it was to put on.”
Calla raised a brow. “You do not think Master Kell knows how?”
A Gathering of Shadows

“You can’t glare magic into happening.”
A Gathering of Shadows

This is the recurring structure of a classic ghost story, after all: the ghost remains because it cannot believe the perverse normality of a world that has gone on living, that has forgotten whatever personal tragedy happened here. The carpets are cleaned, the furniture is sold, and the house continues with new inhabitants, the ghost alone keeping vigil over whatever once took place.
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places

Spiritualism had given many of these women practice and confidence in speaking to groups with authority; by allowing others (the dead) to speak through them, American women began to speak for themselves in greater numbers.
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places

We typically think of ghost stories in terms of the remnants of a terrible tragedy, a past we cannot escape, or a justice unavenged. Why, then, in a place that should be so haunted by the legacy of such a terrible injustice, the scenes of countless deaths, should there be nothing but white ghosts?
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places

It’s a compelling story, perhaps, because it’s one in which Sarah Winchester is punished for these transgressions—driven mad by guilt, unable to join society, her money wasted and misspent. Winchester herself had little documented guilt about the role of the rifle in American history, but we’ve projected shame on her nonetheless, as though we can quarantine such thoughts in the mind of someone long dead so the rest of us can go about our days unburdened, enjoying the California sun.
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places

Americans live on haunted land because we have no other choice.
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places

“Why are you here instead of letting me kill you at the Sol Cola party like I’m supposed to?”
Six Wakes

She didn’t want to be the one building new cities; she wanted to be the one enjoying well-established cities without worrying about where the sewers would go.
Six Wakes

“An empty stomach, plus alcohol, plus the stress of our current situation, means the odds of exhausting your new bodies are very high,” IAN said. “Scientifically speaking, it’s a really stupid idea.”
Six Wakes

“I’m so sick of that argument. I’ve been hearing it for centuries. Playing God. Wolfgang, we played God when people believed they could dictate their baby’s gender by having sex in a certain position. We played God when we invented birth control, amniocentesis, cesarean sections, when we developed modern medicine and surgery. Flight is playing God. Fighting cancer is playing God. Contact lenses and glasses are playing God. Anything we do to modify our lives in a way that we were not born into is playing God.”
Six Wakes

“Knowing what was done to you by a hacker, why don’t you have more sympathy toward Hiro, who is clearly a victim of the same thing?”
“Because logic doesn’t drive the desire for revenge,” he said.
Six Wakes

The woman says her name is Jayd, and it is she who has told me all I know to be true. When I ask, now, why there is a dead body on the floor behind her, she only smiles and says, “There are many bodies on the world,” and I realized the word for world and ship are nearly identical. I don’t know which she used.
The Stars Are Legion

When I wake, it’s Casamir’s grinning face I see. How she remains so peppy, I have no idea. Maybe I’d be happier too, if I knew stories about women wearing wombs on their heads.
The Stars Are Legion

And then after dinner one night, I sit on Rasida’s bed, drink in hand, and she lies down in my lap, and I stroke her cheek, and she says, “It is very lonely, being the lord.”
“I imagine so,” I say, and I do not say, “Because you have murdered everyone who has ever cared for you or could care for you.”
The Stars Are Legion

The funerary feast is exactly that: a feast of the dead.
I’m not sure what I expected as I sit at the table and the bodies of the dead we hauled back from the great doorway are laid out before us. Ribs are cooked and slathered in sauce. Mushrooms are sliced and fried with fingers. I would be more repulsed if it all didn’t smell so good.
The Stars Are Legion

There is a wrongness to it, women giving birth to what the world says it needs instead of what they yearn for.
The Stars Are Legion

“There’s no sense to that,” I complained. “You’re just being literary.”
The Dain Curse

It was easier to move my hand than my tongue.
The Dain Curse

“Kill yourself into a hole, and the chances are a time comes when you have to kill yourself out.”
The Dain Curse

There was no sun yet. My pants stuck disagreeably to my chilly legs. Water squelched in my torn shoes. I hadn’t had any breakfast. My cigarettes had got wet. My left knee ached from a twist it had got sliding down the ravine. I cursed the detective business and slopped on along the path.
The Dain Curse

He was young, blond, tall, broad, sunburned, and dressy, with the good-looking unintelligent face of one who would know everything about polo, or shooting, or flying, or something of that sort—maybe even two things of that sort—but not much about anything else.
The Dain Curse

“It’s smart to be afraid of things that smell of death.”
Ash

Alice said, “It’s like . . . meat. Solid meat, all the way down.”
“Wait a minute,” Stony said. “You can’t find my heart?”
“I’m sure it’s in here somewhere,” his mother said. “How do you feel, John?”
“I’d feel better if you could find my heart.”
Raising Stony Mayhall

“I really like my teeth,” he said.
“You can keep them,” Mr. Blunt said. “Just not in your mouth.”
Raising Stony Mayhall

“So what the fuck was your plan, genius?”
“I was going to try to talk you out of it,” Stony lied. “Using the force of reason.”
Zip laughed. “The force of what?”
“I’m an idealist,” Stony said.
Raising Stony Mayhall

He didn’t think of himself as wily. He was from Iowa, for Christ’s sake.
Raising Stony Mayhall

You could tell this story yourself. You know the ingredients:
Shadows.
Smoke.
Dimly seen figures shambling through shadows and smoke.
Sudden realization that heroes are surrounded by hundreds of zombies, including the following: zombie in uniform (police standard, extra points for nuns, referees, and clowns), child zombie, zombie with no legs.
Screaming.
Screaming while firing gun.
Recognition that adjacent zombie is a friend/relative/loved one.
Near-fatal hesitation to kill zombie who is friend/relative/loved one.
Zombie beaten back with improvised blunt instrument.
Race to the escape vehicle. Someone trips, then is helped up.
Fumbling with doors. Passenger side unexpectedly left locked, must be opened from inside.
Victim saved by unexpected, off-camera shot by companion.
Vehicle door shuts just as zombie reaches it. Window smashed in.
Multiple zombies run over as van accelerates.
Victim says, “I think we’re in the clear.”
Victim realizes they are definitely not in the clear.
Et cetera.
Raising Stony Mayhall

This is why I run.
Because caring was a thing with claws. It sank them in, and didn’t let go. Caring hurt more than a knife to the leg, more than a few broken ribs, more than anything that bled or broke and healed again. Caring didn’t break you clean. It was a bone that didn’t set, a cut that wouldn’t close.
A Conjuring of Light

“Don’t worry,” said Bard. “I’ll be on my best behavior.”
It wasn’t a comforting notion. As far as he could see, she only had one kind of behavior, and it usually ended with several dead bodies.
A Conjuring of Light

They removed their shoes; so did she. They hung their jackets; so did she. And then . . . then what? What did a person do inside a house?
“Make yourself comfortable,” Blue said.
That did not answer her question.
A Closed and Common Orbit

It was a room. Sidra didn’t know how to quantify it beyond that. How did one place value on a room? She couldn’t say if the room was good or not, but it was hers. That was interesting.
A Closed and Common Orbit

“Simply place an order and we’ll dispatch a drone to your location tag straight away. If you know what you’d like—”
“I do.” Pepper nodded seriously. “I’d like the left side of the menu, please.”
A Closed and Common Orbit

Owl had said it was important to know how swearing worked, and it was okay under the right circumstances, but that Jane shouldn’t swear all the time. Jane definitely swore all the time.
A Closed and Common Orbit

There were two things about the plan that worried Sidra: the breach of Pepper’s privacy, and the part that could kill Sidra if she did it wrong. The rest of it was easy.
A Closed and Common Orbit

Before Ginger was finished writing, Bernetta appeared with a plate of watercress sandwiches. Ginger’s stomach gave a sudden, deep growl. Good heavens. When had she last eaten? Thank heavens that Bernetta was well trained, and gave no sigh of having heard the indecorous noise.
Ben, however, raised both eyebrows. “Did you bring a monster with you?”
Ghost Talkers

“Well,” Yeden said dryly, “if you’re listing problems we’ll have to overcome, you should write up there that we’re all bloody insane—though I doubt we can fix that fact.”
The group chuckled, and Kelsier wrote Yeden’s Bad Attitude on the board.
The Final Empire

“My dear friend,” Breeze replied, “the entire point of life is to find ways to get others to do your work for you. Don’t you know anything about basic economics?”
The Final Empire

“Feel free to call an end to it, friend,” Breeze said with a helpful voice. “Don’t be afraid of offending us. I, for one, look favorably upon free money.
The Final Empire

“Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there’s anything I’ve learned from him in the years since, it’s that the dead hide truths as well as the living.”
The Bone Witch

“You think in the same way men drink, Tea,” my father once said, “far too much—under the delusion it is too little.”
The Bone Witch

I was only twelve years old then, thought too young to appreciate my heart’s value. Having a heart was a responsibility; young children were heartless creatures anyway—or so said Mrs. Drury, who lived three cottages away and was the acknowledged village busybody. But I never believed that grown-ups took great care of their hearts either, because my older sister Daisy, seventeen and the loveliest of us Pahlavis, was constantly losing hers.
The Bone Witch

“The dead have a reputation, and it is not for their amiability.”
The Bone Witch

My name is Sunny Nwazue and I confuse people.
Akata Witch

She was scared, but she was excited, too. Her spirit face was beautiful. And it was utterly crazy-looking. And it was hers.
Akata Witch

Free agents are the hardest to understand, predict, or explain. Learning will not come easy to you. You are a Leopard Person only by the will of the Supreme Creator, and as we all know, She isn’t very concerned with Her own creations.
Akata Witch

“I always wanted to play, but I didn’t know I could. At least the girls who come after you will know now.”
Sunny was delighted. She hadn’t even thought of that.
Akata Witch

There were pictures of three colored men wanted in Mississippi for murder. That meant they had killed a white man because killing a colored man wasn’t considered murder in Mississippi.
A Rage in Harlem

Grave Digger and Coffin Ed weren’t crooked detectives, but they were tough. They had to be tough to work in Harlem. Colored folks didn’t respect colored cops. But they respected big shiny pistols and sudden death. It was said in Harlem that Coffin Ed’s pistol would kill a rock and that Grave Digger’s would bury it.
A Rage in Harlem

“Don’t make graves,” Grave Digger cautioned.
A Rage in Harlem

Forgetting his ecclesiastical dignity, Reverend Gaines jumped to his feet and shambled hastily across the room to peer through the front window at the battered hearse parked at the curb in the gray dawn.
A Rage in Harlem

“I just wanted to kneel here besides you, Reverend Gaines, and give myself up to the Lord.”
“What!” Reverend Gaines started as though Jackson had uttered blasphemy. “Give yourself up to the Lord? Jesus Christ, man, what do you take the Lord for? You have to go and give yourself up to the police. The Lord won’t get you out of that kind of mess.”
A Rage in Harlem

“Ain’t got a pappy. Or a master.”
“Then I guess nobody’ll mind, will they?”
That was pretty much it for Nettie Lonesome. She spun on her heel and ran into the barn, right where he’d been pushing her to go. But she didn’t flop down on the hay or toss a mangy blanket that had dried into folds in the broke-down, three-wheeled rig. No, she snatched the sickle from the wall and spun to face him under the hole in the roof. Starlight fell, down on her black braids and glinted off the parts of the curved blade that weren’t rusted up.
“I’d reckon I’d mind,” she said.
Wake of Vultures

“I ain’t here to break hearts, Captain. I’m a Durango Ranger. And I’m here to kill what needs to die.”
Wake of Vultures

“He told me to go back east, toward civilization. Toward the security of white men and their walls and doctors. So like a man, to think there’s safety among yet more men.”
Wake of Vultures

“You ain’t my long-lost mother or something dumb like that, are you?” she asked.
The Cannibal Owl just laughed, high and mad. “Your Comanche called me Owl Mother and Ghost Mother, but I am neither. I have no children. I eat children.” It paused, tapped fingers against its beak. “And only the softest bits of those fully grown. I ate your mother’s guts.”
All the air rushed out of Nettie’s body; she hadn’t known the long-dead truth could break her heart like that. “Fine. You ate my mother. What do you want?”
Wake of Vultures

Soon thereafter, the queen became pregnant, and she gave birth to the ugliest baby on earth. The baby came out with a wooden spoon in its hand, riding a goat. Presumably the labor was equally horrifying.
Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics

“Look, Khawlah,” said one of the women. “We’re plenty brave, but you know what would be useful against an army? Weapons.”
“That’s no excuse. Let’s just uproot these tent poles and pegs and kill them with those.”
“By Allah! What a wonderful and appropriate suggestion.”
Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics

The war started because of a pair of pasty English butt cheeks.
Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics

To be fair, Yahweh showed plenty of charity and grace, too! It must be admitted, however, that the biblical level of divine mercy was, let’s say, wildly inconsistent.
Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics

One of Elisha’s first miracles on record comes when a wandering herd of 42 unsupervised children make fun of him for being bald. In return, Elisha summons up two bears, who proceed to tear every single underage youth into bloody strips.
For those keeping tracks, that is now 492 gratuitous murders attributed to the ostensible heroes of this story, against Jezebel’s one.
Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics

“The day I found something, that would mean that my nighttime ramblings, they had purpose. Otherwise, I was just broken, right? Otherwise, I was just a toy waking up in the night, bumping into walls.”
Mapping the Interior

I imagine that when you grow up in a cowboy place, then you’re all into saddles and boots and ropes. When you grow up in Indian country, the TV tells you how to be Indian. And it starts with bows and arrows and headbands. They’re the exciting part of your heritage. They’re also the thing you can always find at the gift shop.
Mapping the Interior

“I’m all right,” I told her. This is the lie, when you’re twelve. And all the other years, too.
Mapping the Interior

Standing there, I promised myself that if I ever had kids, I was going to be different.
It’s a promise every Indian kid makes at some point.
You mean it when you say it, though. You mean it so hard.
Mapping the Interior

If you can delay pain, you delay it, don’t you? Even when it’s inevitable. Especially when there’s teeth involved.
Mapping the Interior

“I find that difficult to believe.” She didn’t add “you asshole” but it was in her voice.
All Systems Red

I hate having emotions about reality. I’d much rather have them about Sanctuary Moon.
All Systems Red

“It’s downloaded seven hundred hours of entertainment programming since we landed. Mostly serials. Mostly something called Sanctuary Moon.” He shook his head, dismissing it. “It’s probably using it to encode data for the company. It can’t be watching it, not in that volume; we’d notice.”
I snorted. He’d underestimated me.
Ratthi said, “The one where the colony’s solicitor killed the terraforming supervisor who was the secondary donor for her implanted baby?”
Again, I couldn’t help it. I said, “She didn’t kill him, that’s a fucking lie.”
Ratthi turned to Mensah. “It’s watching it.”
All Systems Red

“Shut up,” Mensah snapped. “You shut the fuck up. We’re not leaving you.”
All Systems Red

Aunt Elizabeth and I called at the vicarage yesterday and spent a stimulating afternoon listening to Reverend Fitzwilliam discoursing on the Vanities of Society and the Emptiness of Worldly Pleasures. Aunt Elizabeth hung on every word, and we are to return and take tea on Thursday. I am determined to have the headache Thursday, if I have to hit myself with a rock to do it.
Sorcery & Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

I do hope Robert will do something useful, now that he is there. Staring happily at Dorothea over the tea table may be very enjoyable for them both, but I cannot see that it accomplishes anything.
Sorcery & Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

I was the more surprised because Mr. Tarleton had not previously struck me as the sort of person to carry around oddities in vulgar colors. Upon reflection, however, I have concluded that someone who sneaks about in bushes in order to spy on his cousin is quite likely to have poorer taste than I had at first assumed.
Sorcery & Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

Cecy, I do think it is unfair. People in novels are fainting all the time, and I never can, no matter how badly I need to.
Sorcery & Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

She is such a dear creature. Of course, men would call her bird-witted, but if she was at all clever, they would doubtless call her blue and turn their noses on that account. Men can be such provoking creatures.
Sorcery & Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

“Best gun is the one you have with you,” he quoted at me mildly.
Zero Sum Game

“Stop being accurate when I’m trying to be dramatic,” Checker groused.
Zero Sum Game

“Besides, shouldn’t I be the one who gets to freak out here? All you’re doing is having a guilt complex meltdown. I think the impending death thing trumps that.”
Zero Sum Game

“Was that supposed to be a motivational speech?” said Checker from the phone.
“No,” I said, quite cross.
“Good, because I don’t feel motivated. I vote against you for team morale officer.”
Zero Sum Game

I had far more bullets than I had patience.
Zero Sum Game

“You shouldn’t work so late.”
“Yeah,” Caleb said. “I shouldn’t. I wouldn’t have to, either, if you’d stop trying to kill people.”
Two Serpents Rise

Caleb felt about sunrise the way he felt about RKC’s accounting department: necessary, and best kept at a distance.
Two Serpents Rise

“We all think we’re on our own side, until the time comes to declare war.”
Two Serpents Rise

“You’re my son. I love you. You work for godless sorcerers who I’d happily gut on the altar of that pyramid” – he pointed to 667 Sansilva—“and you are a part of a system that will one day destroy our city and our planet, but I still love you.”
Two Serpents Rise

“Caleb,” Teo said, massaging her throat, “I’ve never met your father. Please introduce me to this man who just broke into my apartment and tried to strangle me.”
Two Serpents Rise

“It made so much more sense than this obsessions with heroin chic. Sex is about contact, after all. Grabbing. Clenching. Kissing. Biting. Where’s the pleasure in gnawing on bones?”
Bearly a Lady

In stops and starts, the office resumes operation: a clatter of typing, a hum of gossip, an occasional bloop and beep from the Candy Crush addicts, all the comforting noises of people at work.
Bearly a Lady

“What if that doesn’t work?”
“Well, you’re a motherfucking werebear, aren’t you?”
Bearly a Lady

The monthly hirsuteness is annoying, but nothing meticulous waxing can’t resolve. And I suppose there’s the whole stigmatization of perceived fatness too, but fuck them. I can arm wrestle that Mountain guy from Game of Thrones. Who needs the acceptance of bigots?
Bearly a Lady

On a Kinsey scale, I’d be a 4, or whatever number’s the one that’s mostly heterosexual but open to opportunities, but there’s just something about Janine that makes me go to pieces.
Bearly a Lady

“You’ve had a bottle,” she informed them. “You’ve been changed. You’ve been walked around the house while I bounced you and sang that dreadful song about the spider. Why are you still crying?”
Jacqueline and Jillian, who were crying for some of the many reasons that babies cry—they were cold, they were distressed, they were offended by the existence of gravity—continued to wail.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Some adventures begin easily. It is not hard, after all, to be sucked up by a tornado or pushed through a particularly porous mirror; there is no skill involved in being swept away by a great wave or pulled down a rabbit hole. Some adventures require nothing more than a willing heart and the ability to trip over the cracks in the world.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones

The moon worries. We may not know how we know that, but we know it all the same: that the moon watches, and the moon worries, and the moon will always love us, no matter what.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Hearts that have been stopped without being damaged can sometimes start again, under the right circumstances. When the right circumstances cannot be arranged, lightning can make a surprisingly good substitute.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones

“They’d be able to give me children. That’s what Mother says.”
“I could give you children,” said Jack, sounding faintly affronted. “You’d have to tell me how many heads you wanted them to have, and what species you’d like them to be, but what’s the point of having all these graveyards if I can’t give you children when you ask for them?”
Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Sydney’s going to miss this place. It’s not much, but it’s decent—concrete floors easy to bleach blood off of, thick plaster walls, and the only window looks out onto the side of a brick building. And then there’s the trash chute at the end of the hallway, just big enough to dump pieces of body into without the hassle of hauling them down all those stairs and to the dumpster out back.
Prey of Gods

He should feel bad stalking his mother like this, but there’s just so little he knows about her, who she consorts with, what she does in her spare time when she isn’t planning his every move or reviving men from the dead.
Prey of Gods

If there’s one rule in planning for world domination, it’s to make sure you look good doing so. Nobody wants to worship a frumpy god.
Prey of Gods

I had only lived there for a week, but like summer camp, the time had a strange, dilated quality that made it feel like its own era. I’d made friends and enemies, and then made enemies of my friends, and then I’d seen three people die.
Phantom Pains

Tjuan and Winterglass immediately flattened themselves against the nearest walls to assist in their invisibility.
Phantom Pains

“So what are they waiting for?”
“I see your implication.”
“You do? Let’s pretend I don’t, for a second.”
Phantom Pains

“Maybe we should find out why it’s mad, what it wants.”
“Wants? Millie, we’re talking about a creature the size of an elephant with three rows of serrated teeth. It wants to eat. Without chewing.”
Phantom Pains

“I want to say for the record that I don’t think a thing should be allowed to have venomous tail spines and magic.”
Phantom Pains

“Well, she had foul breath, dead or alive,” Mary Jane replied. “Her odors won’t improve from here on out.”
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

“Martha, what were you thinking, tackling poor Miss Fringle like that?” Mary Jane hissed. “Just because she called you plain! Women her age are made of eggshells and cobwebs. You could have killed her. Then we’d have yet another body to dispose of.”
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

“What a heap of trouble you’ve caused us,” she told their buried bodies. “Now we’re full of toil and trouble while you lie there, peaceful as sleeping kittens.”
This, she considered upon some reflection, might not be wholly just.
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

“I don’t condone killing, but if killing happens anyway, then I think women go about it much more sensibly. Leave it to men to be loud and violent and messy about the business. It’s egotistical of them. It’s not enough to eliminate their enemy. No. They must conquer them face to face and watch them plead for mercy, whereas women dispatch victims quickly and silently.”
Elinor picked up a sketchbook and began to draw. “Men might say poison isn’t sporting.”
“Yes, and men think that organizing parties of dozens of riders and hounds to chase down one poor fox is sporting.” Louise snorted. “Men’s opinions are irrelevant.”
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

“I wish he hadn’t died. I would have married the old dear in a heartbeat.”
“Hmph.” Mrs. Godding’s eyebrows rose at this. “I thought you had your sights set elsewhere.”
Mary Jane shrugged. “Oh, I’m flexible.”
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

Clay looked a little alarmed, as gentlemen often did when something mysterious involving female clothing was in danger of happening.
The Lie Tree

She had tumbled off the safe, hallowed shore of childhood, and now she was in no-man’s water, neither one thing nor another, like a mermaid. Until she dragged herself up on the rock of marriage, she was difficult.
The Lie Tree

Back in the trophy room the gentlemen would be taking the leash off their conversation. Likewise, here in the drawing room, each lady quietly relaxed and became more real, expanding into the space left by the men. Without visibly changing, they unfolded, like flowers, or knives.
The Lie Tree

People were animals, and animals were nothing but teeth. You bit first, and you bit often. That was the only way to survive.
The Lie Tree

“I want to help evolution.”
Evolution did not fill Faith with the same horror her father had felt. Why should she weep to hear that nothing was set in stone? Everything could change. Everything could get better. Everything was getting better, inch by inch, so slowly that she could not see it, but knowing it gave her strength.
“My dearest girl, I have not the faintest idea what you are talking about.”
Faith thought about the best way to rephrase her resolution.
“I want to be a bad example,” she said.
The Lie Tree

“Tell them they can be great someday, like us. Tell them they belong among us, no matter how we treat them. Tell them they must earn the respect which everyone else receives by default. Tell them there is a standard for acceptance; that standard is simple perfection. Kill those who scoff at these contradictions, and tell the rest that the dead deserved annihilation for their weakness and doubt. Then they’ll break themselves trying for what they’ll never achieve.”
The Fifth Season

Syen has spent every evening swatting bugs beside a fire, with nothing to do but glare at Alabaster. And have sex with him, but that only kills a few minutes.
The Fifth Season

“Home is people,” she says to Asael, softly. Asael blinks. “Home is what you take with you, not what you leave behind.”
The Fifth Season

“I didn’t ask for company.”
“No, you didn’t.” He’s smiling at her again, but in that hard-edged way she’s beginning to hate. “But if you’re going out alone, at night, in a strange comm where someone’s already tried to kill one of us, then you’re rusting well going to have company.”
The Fifth Season

“Not the same one,” he says, with the sort of patience one reserves for people who are being particularly stupid but don’t deserve to be told that to their faces because they’ve had a hard day.
The Fifth Season

There are only so many ways to off yourself. It’s not really the how that matters anyway, just the who, the what, and the why.
Pasadena

To this day, the streets are named after the wealthiest families and the crops that made them rich. Never after the people who planted them.
Pasadena

“Honey, if a boy only says he loves you after you’ve screwed him, it ain’t you he loves, it’s your Bermuda Triangle.”
Pasadena

The thing I’m finally learning is that someone can be your best friend in the whole world, but you’re not necessarily theirs.
Pasadena

“Anything else?” I asked.
“He was a whistler,” she said.
Maddy recoiled. “Only serial killers whistle.”
Double Down

The dragon Ismenios, named for where it lived, had fought and lost to a guy named Cadmus in Greek myth. He planted its teeth in the ground because . . . myth reasons, I guess, and they became warriors who helped him find some ancient city.
Double Down

“I like you. More-than-a-friend like you. I worry about you. I look forward to talking to you more than to anyone else. I know we can’t actually, like, go out on dates, but I would want to know. If you met someone else.”
He started to laugh. The sound was nice. I loved his laugh. But I kind of wanted to push him off the turret.
“This is not funny,” I said. “I’m pouring my heart out here.
Double Down

Worse, what boy named Jaime Eduardo Cruz understood some Spanish but couldn’t speak much beyond hola and gracias and uno, dos, tres? It didn’t seem to matter that kids named Wagner couldn’t speak German, or kids named Maccarone couldn’t speak Italian. It didn’t seem to matter that his mother spoke English, and had studied Latin at her high school in New Jersey, or that his grandmother was fluent in so many languages that she occasionally sounded like translation software.
The Shadow Cipher (York, Book One)

“Did you finish your page?”
“No,” he said.
“Why not?”
“The directions don’t make sense.”
“You don’t understand them?”
“I understood what they wanted me to do, but they weren’t clearly written. I thought I should read this book instead. It’s about nuclear fusion.”
The Shadow Cipher (York, Book One)

“I thought I saw them come in here.”
“Who?” said another voice.
“A bunch of kids.”
“Why would a bunch of kids come down here? I don’t even want to be here, and I work here.”
The Shadow Cipher (York, Book One)

The man named Sig was built like Ben Grimm of the Fantastic Four—almost as wide was he was tall—and had no tolerance for these shenanigans. Jaime knew this because Sig said: “I have no tolerance for these shenanigans.”
The Shadow Cipher (York, Book One)

She ate three helpings of chicken and rice as Mr. Biedermann practiced his chewy, New York-accented Spanish with Mrs. Cruz, and Mrs. Cruz practiced her wincing.
The Shadow Cipher (York, Book One)

“Young Reverend Ayers looks at a lake and sees only his reflection in it; that is what God is to him. He does not see the creatures that live down deep, the dragonflies that hover, the frog on the lily pad.”
– The Winter People

For a second, Nicole wasn’t sure that she should go with these white girls. They sounded like they’d gone straight-up crazy, and the only other brown girl was giving her an eyeful of attitude. Nicole did what she’d been taught since she was little and her parents had moved into an all-white neighborhood: She smiled and made herself as friendly and nonthreatening as possible. It’s what she did when she met the parents of her friends. There was always that split second—something almost felt rather than seen—when the parents’ faces would register a tiny shock, a palpable discomfort with Nicole’s “otherness.” And Nicole would smile wide and say how nice it was to come over. She would call the parents Mr. or Mrs., never by their first names. Their suspicion would ebb away, replaced by an unspoken but nonetheless palpable pride in her “good breeding,” for which they should take no credit but did anyway. Nicole could never quite relax in these homes. She’d spend the evening perched on the edge of the couch, ready to make a quick getaway. By the time she left, she’d have bitten her nails and cuticles ragged, and her mother would shake her head and say she was going to make her wear gloves.
Beauty Queens

Already, Billy avoided her, and hurtful gossip spread about “that wild Mary Lou.” Stinging slaps of names bit at her skin in the school hallways: Whore. Slut. Nympho. Easy. Trashy. Trampy. Not the girl you bring home to Mother. But Mary Lou didn’t really want to go home to someone’s mother. She already had one of those and, frankly, one was more than enough.
Beauty Queens

“In health class, they told us there’s an or in whore because you always have the choice to respect your body and say no. You’ve got one of those STP’s now, don’t you?”
Petra stared. “STP is a motor oil.”
“Oh. My. Gosh. We didn’t even learn about that one. It must be really bad!” Tiara gestured solemnly to her crotch. “Protect the citadel. Protect the citadel.”
Petra looked to the others. “Help.”
Beauty Queens

The beauty queen made the first move and kissed the prince. “You know what I really like?” she whispered into his ear. Seconds later, he was sliding his mouth down the curve of her stomach. As he did, she looked up and saw the boulder teetering on the edge of the cliff above them.
“Oh my God! Look out for that boulder!”
“What bould–?”
The rock fell off and killed her dead. The prince was blinded in the accident, but later healed by the love of a goodly, virginal maiden who suffered a lot first.
Beauty Queens

“It is important for girls to be likeable.”
“But why?” Shanti asked.
If Mrs. Mirabov had an answer, she wasn’t sharing. “Come down this instant and we work on interview portion. You can tell story of how much you wish to be mother someday. People like to hear about your future plans for ovaries.”
Beauty Queens

“How about the other guy?” I asked, ignoring him.
“What other guy was that?”
“In the hay, in the guest house. No clothes on. You’re not saying she had to go down there to play solitaire.”
The Long Goodbye

There was a sad fellow over on a bar stool talking to the bartender, who was polishing a glass and listening with that plastic smile people wear when they are trying not to scream.
The Long Goodbye

The fellow who decorated that room was not a man to let colors scare him.
The Long Goodbye

“How did you get on with Father?”
“Fine. He explained civilization to me. I mean how it looks to him. He’s going to let it go on for a little while longer. But it better be careful and not interfere with his private life. If it does, he’s apt to make a phone call to God and cancel the order.”
The Long Goodbye

I was as hollow and empty as the spaces between the stars.
The Long Goodbye

That was good old Mexico City, which had fallen to the Spaniards but would not yield to vampires.
Certain Dark Things

Ana had always prided herself in being more John Wayne that Clint Eastwood. She didn’t love shooting random people, giddy to star in her very own spaghetti Western. Some bastards did. They became cops because they could give free rein to their desire to shoot strangers, but Ana’s grandmother had been very clear: you don’t waste your bullets needlessly.
Certain Dark Things

What she needed was sleep. A bit more and she was going to start hallucinating that Izel was sitting next to her. Uncomfortable conversations with your deceased relatives should be saved for the Day of the Dead or a night of binge drinking.
Certain Dark Things

Valentina Saade had headed Deep Crimson for nearly twenty years. She had been the girlfriend of the previous bastard who ran the criminal organization, back when it wasn’t really that much of anything. One day she must have been tired of being someone’s personal punching bag and she cut off his dick. She’d been running Deep Crimson since then, possibly because nobody wants to mess with a lady who is willing to slice off your dick with a rusty knife and possibly because she had a great deal of common sense. It was probably a bit of both.
Certain Dark Things

“Our hearts want nothing but a war death.”
Certain Dark Things

“I’m Alana, your nurse. I think you’re confused.”
Molly isn’t confused, but she knows grown-ups. At times they say things that are not true, and what they want is for you to agree with them. They especially like it when you nod.
Molly nods and says, “I’m confused.”
The Murders of Molly Southbourne

Molly loves reading. Words used to be homework, a chore, but books make words do magic tricks.
The Murders of Molly Southbourne

Molly decides she will not be shaving her legs, armpits, or anywhere else blighted by puberty.
The Murders of Molly Southbourne

She cannot stand children. They remind her of the mollys, with their innocence and their half-formed personalities, and she expects them to burst into violence any minute. They never do, but they might.
The Murders of Molly Southbourne

After some weeks, Leon says, “I love you, Molly.”
“No, you don’t, you silly sausage. You think you’re in love because I’m emotionally unavailable. You’ll get over it.”
The Murders of Molly Southbourne

Steve Grant rounded the corner of the parking lot behind Black Spring Market & Deli just in time to see Katherine van Wyler get run over by an antique Dutch barrel organ.
Hex

A dictator you can predict, but not a witch.
Hex

Grim cursed Colton Mathers and the midwife who had delivered him.
Hex

He spoke about building bridges and getting past ethnic differences. He spoke about humanity and decency. He spoke with a heavy accent and was dragged away by enraged onlookers as he woudn’t stop speaking.
Hex

“C,” I yell. “I don’t even know what I’m—”
“Tunnels!” Carlos yells over his shoulder. “Find out about the tunnels.”
And then, like a dick, he’s gone.
Midnight Taxi Tango

“I’m Rohan, by the way. You can call me Fantastic.”
“Do I have to?”
“That’s what they call me, man, not my fault. Actually, they call me Mista Fantastic at the club, but you know, I don’t wanna sound arrogant.”
“I mean . . .”
Midnight Taxi Tango

“Rigo seems like the kinda dude wanna whisper sweet nothings to your pussy before he dive on into it.”
“Karina.”
Bonjour, beautiful kitten of the night; mon Dieu, what lovely leeps you have, mon pussevou.”
“Why he got a French accent all the sudden though?”
“Dudes automatically become French before they eat the box. That’s the rule.”
Midnight Taxi Tango

“Anyway, yeah, I dated this guy Rex for a few months. I mean . . . his name was fucking Rex, right? How much should I really have expected?”
Midnight Taxi Tango

“I’m not sure how I feel about you and Carlos teaming up. I love Carlos like the weird half-dead son I never particularly wanted, but he runs in a dangerous world, Kia.”
Midnight Taxi Tango

Dimple didn’t know what to think. Serial killer? Loony bin escapee? Strangely congenial mugger? Nothing made sense. So she did the only thing she could think to do in the moment—she flung her iced coffee at him and ran the other way.
When Dimple Met Rishi

“So what you’re saying is, you’re like a Jehovah’s Witness for our people.”
Rishi’s mouth twitched, but he nodded seriously. “Yes. I’m Ganesha’s Witness.”
When Dimple Met Rishi

The stench of Axe body spray was enough to strangle anyone within fifty feet of the boy.
When Dimple Met Rishi

“Sex. We need to talk before we go further.”
“Right. So . . . I think we should go further.”
When Dimple Met Rishi

Peavey made a face in disgust as he looked over at the “ghost.” It was clearly nothing more than a man with a white sheet draped over his head. And Peavey knew enough about a men in white sheets to understand they were nothing but cowards and posers.
The man in the sheet let go of Peavey’s ankles and stood up. He spoke the valet’s name and demanded he identify the killer. Peavey’s expression deepened in its contempt. How peculiar that in death Mr. Taylor should acquire a Chicago accent.
– Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood

Cheeses turned on you sometimes, even mild-mannered and well-trained cheeses.
A Face Like Glass

Zouelle had forgotten how tiring it was listening to Neverfull at full pace, like being bludgeoned with exclamation marks.
A Face Like Glass

“It’s . . . I’ve seen dead people before. A few. But they look different when it’s my fault.”
A Face Like Glass

“Murder is like romance. It is only our first one that overwhelms us.”
A Face Like Glass

The physicians ordered to look for signs of poison had explained, as politely as they could, the difficulties of spotting “unusual symptoms” in a corpse that had blood like oozing crystal and a heart shaped like a banana.
A Face Like Glass

The planet’s tyrant, dotard Death, had held his gray mirror before them for a moment and shown them the image of things to come. But now it was taken away again. The unpleasantness had passed. Fortunate, indeed, that Penberthy was the old man’s own doctor. He knew all about it. He could give a certificate. No inquest. Nothing undesirable. The members of the Bellona Club could go to dinner.
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

“Acid man you are,” said Wimsey. “No reverence, no ample faith or anything of that kind. Do lawyers ever go to Heaven?”
“I have no information on that point,” said Mr. Murbles, dryly.
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

“I hope I am not boring you, by the way?”
“I am bearing up,” said Wimsey, “waiting for the point where the Money comes in. There’s a steely legal glitter in your eye, sir, which suggests that the thrill is not far off.”
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

Wimsey began to feel that there must have been a conspiracy to overlook the old gentleman on the last morning of his life.
“You don’t think he was never here at all, do you, Bunter?” he suggested. “Walkin’ about invisible and tryin’ hard to communicate, like that unfortunate ghost in that story of somebody or other’s?”
Bunter was inclined to reject the psychic view of the case.
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

My grandmother’s house was truly ridiculous. It had probably started as a shack or something, but since it was first built back in . . . whenever . . . so many extra floors and extra wings and other stuff had been added, now it was this crazy sprawling mansion that looked like it fell out of a Guillermo del Toro movie. There were turrets, for god’s sake. Three of them.
Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies

Grandma Charlotte said he’d died of a broken heart, which Piper figured meant a heart attack.
The Night Sister

Jason’s mom didn’t believe in junk food, so she fed him bird food instead: nuts, seeds, dried fruit.
The Night Sister

“If I die, know that I will carry your memory with me, and it will be all the heaven I need.”
She jerked her hand back coldly. “You said that last week, after you slipped on the stairs.”
Such Sweet Sorrow

The pair exchanged something Hamlet did not understand; a steely nod from the Friar, a grim resolve etched in Romeo’s face. It was a truly poetic moment between friends, a bond Hamlet felt honored to have viewed.
Then Romeo grabbed the front of Hamlet’s doublet, and they both tumbled through the corpseway.
Such Sweet Sorrow

She had been beautiful, but her beauty had drawn men who’d had wrong intentions. Her figure had blossomed before she’d understood the difference between childhood and womanhood, and she’d been ill-prepared to defend herself from the boys she’d once played with as friends. If that was all her body could do for her, she might as well remain a spirit.
Such Sweet Sorrow

“In case we become separated, or you can’t get me back to Midgard, give this to him. As a token of my ever undying love.”
“Can we . . .” Hamlet took the hair and tucked it into a pouch hanging from his belt. “I mean, we can’t really call it ‘undying,’ can we? You both died. A bit.”
Such Sweet Sorrow

“Have the two of you noticed there are more skulls than before?” Juliet asked, a hint of nervousness in her voice. “I only mention it because any amount of disembodied head lying around gives me a bit of a fright.”
Such Sweet Sorrow

He’s got a pack of hunting dogs with him, because that’s his power: talking to dogs. I guess if you’re really serious about it, you can make a career out of any superpower, even a really dumb one.
The Rise of Renegade X

Nobody’s ever hit me before. That’s kind of surprising, now that I think about it.
The Rise of Renegade X

Life would be so much easier if mothers stuck to making cookies and moonshine and didn’t have sex. Not that Mom ever makes cookies.
The Rise of Renegade X

Whew! And that’s it, folks, for the 2017 Book Superlatives. We’ll be back with more silly awards and probably an even longer list of quotes next year. See you then!

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