A Scattering of Jades
By Alexander C. Irvine
Tor Books, Hardcover, 9780765301161, 448pp.
Publication Date: July 1, 2002
List Price: $25.95*
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The great fire of 1835 burned most of New York City's wooden downtown. Like many people, Archie Prescott thought he had lost everything. His home was a smoldering ruin, his dead wife's body at his feet. And next to her is a child's corpse he assumes was his daughter. It seems like the end of everything.
But it is only the beginning.
Goaded into action by New York Herald publisher James Gordon Bennett, Archie runs afoul of one of P. T. Barnum's former sideshow workers, Riley Steen. With the help of an ancient book translated by Aaron Burr, Steen has resurrected a chacmool. This ageless Mesoamerican avatar plans to use the blood of Archie's still-living daughter to bring about the end of humanity.
At the same time, Stephen Bishop guides tourists through the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Stephen, a slave, wants nothing more than a world where the color of his skin doesn't deny his humanity. His fateful first meeting with the chacmool leads him to believe that the promise it offers may bring him to such a world.
In the midst of ancient magic and murderous conspiracies, Archie finds himself with the power to save the world or drown it in sacrificial blood . . . but first he has to stop mourning his daughter and undertake a grim cross-country journey to save her.
"A Scattering of Jades is a strange and dark and wonderful novel that comes to the reader like some weird and spicy jambalaya engaging all the senses. With its cast of the quirky and grotesque, not to mention its shadowy historical conspiracies, you can think of Tim Powers' books for a touchstone, but Alexander Irvine definitely has his own, individual voice. This one's a keeper."--Charles de Lint, author of Forests of the Heart
"A Scattering of Jades is brilliant, the best kind of Hidden History novel (and an impressive first novel at that). I was reminded of the work of Tim Powers, especially in the way Mr. Irvine so compellingly underpins the everyday events of the world with magic and fantastic events, and makes it all somehow plausible."--Kage Baker, author of The Graveyard Game
"Boisterously imagined and vividly written. Irvine's debut novel has everything a reader could hope for--adventure, magic, villainy, and caves. Reincarnations! Retributions! Family values! A Scattering of Jades is one wild ride."--Karen Joy Fowler, author of Sister Noon