Friday, February 10, 2017

Nobody's Home by Tim Powers

Right up front, I'll tell you this: I'm pretty sure Nobody's Home fits right in between particular pages in Tim Powers's 1983 novel The Anubis Gates. There are probably people on the Internet who can tell you which pages those are, and have already devised a re-read plan to slot it into the middle of that novel at the appropriate point.

I'm not going to do that. I like The Anubis Gates and am a big Powers fan, but I haven't read that book in some years (could be twenty) and I'm not obsessive about that particular thing. (Like all of us, I'm obsessive about something. But that's a story for another time.)

What I can tell you: Nobody's Home is set in the middle of the early-19th century London portion of Anubis Gates's plot, with Jacky Snapp having disguised herself as a boy to find Dog-Faced Joe, the cursed body-swapping pseudo-werewolf who took her fiance's body and led to her shooting that poor young man to death.

But, while she's searching for that villain, she runs into another young woman haunted by the ghost of a loved one -- her Indian husband, who is keen to have her join him through suttee. The encounter leaves both ghosts very agitated and active, making the two women a beacon to all of the people who prey on ghosts and those they haunt. They have to lay those spirits, and quickly -- the only way is to flee upriver to the houseboat called Nobody's Home, where the mysterious Nobody can do what they need.

Nobody's Home is a novella rather than a novel -- actually, it might even be a novelette, since it's only 73 story pages [1] -- so it's focused on that single stream of events. It's very much a sidebar; Jacky's quest is as unfulfilled at the end of the book as it was at the beginning. So it's a nice bit of Powers prose, but it doesn't really stand on its own as a story or a book -- it's purely an additional thing for Anubis Gates fans, like a long-lost deleted chapter.

If that's appealing to you, here it is. If you haven't read Anubis Gates, well, what have you been doing instead for the past thirty-four years? I swear, some people....

[1] And, if I still remember how to do a cast-off -- which I do not guarantee -- it's around 13k words, which is shorter than a novella.

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