Author News: Charles Rafferty
Magda Puzanov knows three things about her world: the taste of angel meat, the perils of loving an albino, and the smudge of pollution on her horizon, which is all she can see of Moscodelphia — the city that can end her poverty. Magda is a farm girl who falls in love with Anton Petrovich, an albino reputed to have magical powers. When the crops begin failing across the countryside, Anton’s neighbors grow hungry and fall back on their old superstitions. It is Magda’s own brother who cuts off one of Anton’s fingers for a charm, and Magda realizes that Anton must flee to Moscodelphia, alone. Magda bides her time on the family farm until she is captured by a team of “collectors.” These men are in charge of extracting the countryside’s wealth and shipping it back to Moscodelphia. This includes marriageable girls. Ever the optimist, Magda sees her kidnapping as a chance to reunite with Anton. But Magda is bid upon and purchased by Josef Rabinovich, a bureaucrat rising through the ranks of the Ministry of Opulence. At first, Magda is astonished at the luxury Josef provides, but she leads an increasingly brutalized life until she finds Anton again, years later, in an open-air market. They conduct a love affair and plot their escape from a city full of poison and an ongoing plague of falling toads.