Sunday, August 29, 2010

Devil spotting: "A Reversal of Fortune" by Holly Black

Again, not an example of the meeting with the devil at the crossroads but instead one of a pact with the devil involving a contest. In The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black, Easthampton, MA: Big Mouth House, 2010, 29-47.

"How about this--I will wager my services against something of yours. If you beat me at any contest of your choosing, your dog will be well and you'll owe me nothing."
"Really? Any contest?" she asked.
He held out his hand. "Shake on it and we've got a deal." 

His skin was warm and dry in her grip.
"So, what is it going to be?" he asked. "You play the fiddle? Or maybe you'd like to try your hand at jump rope?" (page 40-41)

Also available in Sympathy for the Devil: Stories of the Devil edited by Tim Pratt. San Francisco: Night Shade Books, 2010, 51-61.

Originally published in The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling. New York: Viking, 2007, 418-436.

In the author's note, Holly Black writes: "In folklore, the devil's attempts to steal souls often involves humorous and impossible contests....I wondered how the devil would cheat at such a contest and wound up writing "A Reversal of Fortune." (436)

And no, I am not revealing the nature of this particular contest -- I highly recommend you seek out any of the three collections (or all of them) and find out for yourself.

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