Contemporary metaphorical fantasy from the author of Night Watch (1997). Momma, Elena Beauchamp of Houston, Texas, has died of cancer, leaving two daughters to argue over her legacy: Momma, you see, was a witch, and while Toni, the plain, practical daughter, wants neither the benefits nor the burdens that accrue, gorgeous and optimistic Candy would welcome the gift. The Riders, spirits embodied in a set of weird dolls, yielded Momma her magic abilities; but in exchange, the mercurial Mockingbird, the cold, hard Preacher, Sugar the flirt, Pierrot the cruel clown, the stern, protective Widow, or the implacable, manipulative Mr. Copper would also —mount,— or possess, her for a while. Momma, too, would tell heart-rending stories about a Little Lost Girl who could never find her way home. At the funeral, Candy'she can sometimes see the future, but only its happy events—tricks Toni into drinking Momma's Mockingbird Cordial (as Momma had instructed), and poor Toni finds she's inherited the Riders against her will. Even worse, Toni learns all about Momma's darkest secrets—not just the drunkenness, cruelty, and favoritism, but debts, affairs, even another daughter whom the Widow forced Momma to abandon. In confronting these unexpected developments, Toni slowly learns to take control of her own life and comes to understand and accept Momma's —gift that cannot be refused—. Knotty, unsparing, and impressively wrought, but what it all means is anyone's guess.
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