DUET WITH THE DEVIL’S VIOLINIST
MG Magical Realism
Thirteen-year-old prodigy Miranda Harper craves the kind of perfection that goes beyond hitting all the right notes – like she’s inside the music. Thanks to her new violin, she achieves her goal, but it’s more than she bargained for. A flawless performance of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” lands her in a flying chariot piloted by a six-and-a-half-foot Valkyrie delivering a dead soldier to Valhalla. She’s sure there shouldn’t be dead bodies inside the music.
Miranda snaps back to reality, only to battle exhaustion and a reluctance to play for several days. She decides the Valkyrie incident was a hallucination, until the magic strikes again during a Halloween concert. This time her world goes black and white, and a dress-clad psycho chases her with a butcher knife. As a bonus, the scratches Miranda gets during her escape come back to the real world with her.
With each trip into the music, it’s harder to return and the side effects get worse. Miranda knows she should stop, but perfection is addictive. The euphoria of one extraordinary performance is worth a few days of exhaustion and some minor injuries. But when she discovers continuing to play the violin could trap her forever in an alternate reality, she must decide what perfection is really worth.
Complete at 43,000 words, DUET WITH THE DEVIL’S VIOLINIST will appeal to fans of Lindsey Leavitt’s PRINCESS FOR HIRE series and Jacqueline West’s THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE.
I knew it wasn’t really possible. Near perfection, yes. Total perfection, no way.
I’d learned that lesson after years of playing the violin. Something that sounded flawless to the average person was bound to have minuscule errors.
A tone so slightly off pitch that even someone with a highly trained ear couldn’t tell.
A note played a hundredth of a beat too soon.
A bow pulled at the wrong speed to produce the right sound.
A measure performed in mezzo piano instead of pianissimo.
Joshua Bell, classical music superstar and my idol, once said: “ … when it’s perfect … I feel like I can do no wrong. I could change my fingers – do it on a different string – because I have that much concentration. Also, you feel like you’re inside the music.”
That’s what I wanted to feel – that I was inside the music. That I was the music.
I especially wanted that sensation today, my first day as concertmaster of the youth symphony. Miranda Harper: concertmaster. I loved the sound of it. I should have had the title last season, but Dr. Kamensky said I needed a year to observe. It probably didn’t help that my first year was the previous concertmaster’s last year before going off to college, and it would have really sucked to be bumped by a seventh grader.
Instead he named me principal second violinist. At least we played some Mozart. Good old Wolfgang sometimes let the second violins outshine the firsts.
Now it was my turn to shine. And we weren’t playing Mozart today.