Excerpt from Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Confessions of the Fox

by Jordy Rosenberg

Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg X
Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2018, 352 pages

    Mar 2019, 352 pages


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Kate Braithwaite
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None of them seemed to have any parents at all. He'd be just like them, now, he supposed.

Jack consum'd the Kneebones' scraps while he tidied the kitchen. Then Kneebone fetched him and walked him upstairs to his sleeping quarters. A filthy dark garret in the upper reaches of the spindly townhouse. The unmistakable piercing scent of Mice and rot blasted out of the room when Kneebone opened the door.

Jack's body ach'd from standing, serving, and cleaning. His neck was prickled with pain. His fingers were stiff and cold. His extremely circumscribed horizon of hope fix'd entirely on the prospect of sleep. But as they approached the bed—Kneebone almost projecting him towards it with the negative magnetism of his Nearness — Jack was thrown into wakefulness. An unwelcome, exhausted awakeness. He heard something jangling, and peered behind him. Kneebone held a heavy Lock and Chain in his hand.

"Receiv'd this from a Swedish importer." Kneebone cough'd. "A gift for an especially profitable exchange — a Polhem Lock," he continued, with what appeared an Erotick excitement concerning Lock mechanicks. He caressed the curve of iron, his gray skin sparking to a pinkish gray.

"This Lock," he said, fixing Jack in his weak, watery glare, "is unpickable."

Jack lay down. He did so without instruction because it was impossible to keep his Body from trembling and crumpling to the bed.

Kneebone reached into his torso jerkin pocket and produc'd a Key, which he slid into the Lock. Four teeth yawned open, and Kneebone wound the oiled iron Chain around Jack's ankle, then the bedpost, and threaded the Lock's jaw through. He snapped it shut.

Every nerve in Jack's body fir'd against his skin — His jaw tensed and the muscles of his scalp bunched and held themselves, frozen in aching Huddles — He willed himself not to look at the Lock—to Unfeel it against his skin — Unfeel its weight on his ankle and foot. "I'm not extraordinarily cruel," Kneebone said, looking down at Jack. "But I've bought you body and Soul for the period of ten years.

And I mean to keep you to it."

Kneebone backed away with a Perverse and ashamed half-smile, shutting the door and locking it behind him. "Will return at dawn," Kneebone hissed through the boards, and clunk'd down the stairs.

The next morning, Kneebone hurried Jack through the dining area—dim, chill, and curtained shut against the dawn—towards the Workroom, a cluttered chamber that bowed out in a bay window at the far end. Jack took in the items Kneebone had produced for sale. Dressing tables, chests, armoires, windowsills, and a bizarre quantity of little stools with cushioned tops.

"What's this?" Jack ask'd, reaching down to poke a cushion. "Don't touch anything!" Kneebone shouted as Jack stumbl'd through the mess. "It's all the property of Kneebone, and Kneebone only. Every item in this room is forbidden to you unless it's being actively worked on."

Kneebone sat Jack at the workbench and took a place across, their knees knocking under the table.

"I'll teach you window-glazing, nail-casting, and the art of screwsmanship," he announc'd. "But mostly I will teach you tuffets. Podiums for the small pet Pups of the aristocrats to perch on whilst having their portraitures painted." He pointed at the cushioned stool Jack had pok'd. "That's where the market is best."

The air filled with Kneebone's stale, arid Breath. It wasn't rotted like so many other high-living folks'. But it was bitter, like a tree emitting old Resin from its whorled depths.

Jack reach'd for a chisel. He didn't need demonstration. Just glancing at the tuffets he felt assured he could make something similar. 'Twasn't difficult. Probably he'd just have to - And then Kneebone was at his side. With another Polhem Lock in his hand.

Excerpted from Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg. Copyright © 2018 by Jordy Rosenberg. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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