“The Magician’s Apprentice,” by Tamsyn Muir
First appeared in Weird Tales, Issue
#358 or #359 (Volume 66, No. 3, Winter 2012), edited by Ann VanderMeer; reprinted here in Weird Fiction Review, July 3rd, 2012; reprinted in The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2013, edited by Rich Horton; reprinted in The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Five, edited by Ellen Datlow; featured in PseudoPod 515, November 4th, 2016; reprinted in Lightspeed Magazine issue 88 (September 2017), online here
4,860 words, says Lightspeed
(Spoilers.) I love the reference to Lolita, and Mr. Hollis’s analysis of it, and this line: “You see, I’ve got nowhere else to go.” He evidently gave her the book as a hint about what he’s really up to. I’m not totally convinced that John/Mr. Hollis has eaten Cherry’s childhood, though, despite her food name, despite the ending. His relationship with her doesn’t strike me as all that sick up until the secret he reveals—the secret of what it really means to be a magician. It’s more as though he’s eaten her adulthood. She’ll never be the same after this.
Did he train her, selfishly, in order to soothe his loneliness? It must be lonely to be a magician, devouring without end.
Mr. Hollis’s comment about “dead joggers” is great. The last line is also great.