Persistence of Frost: A Study in Magic by Chris Kim is a very short story full of surprises and improbable situations, something readers should expect when the word “Magic” is in the title. This story is so unusual I wanted to add comments about the story on the Amazon review page but the title doesn’t appear. It appears on Goodreads with a slight alteration in the title. For fun, I followed the Goodreads buying option links and couldn’t find the story on any link suggested. I downloaded the story through offerings made on the Tobias Wade newsletter that provides news about his Haunted House Publishing site. It is a very entertaining unusual story that cost me more time searching for its availability than it took to read it. I subscribed to Chris Kim’s newsletter and will read further stories or novels by this author.
Jean is a female four-time International featherweight kickboxing champion who did not pursue a professional career in the fight game. Instead, she worked as an employee for a group that supplied bodyguards to celebrities. Her current client was the improbably named Shock Hearth, an internet celebrity and bestselling author. Shock was receiving death threats because he had inadvertently threatened someone. Jean did not have to be an investigator and find out who threatened her client; she did not even have to know what Shock said. She just had to protect him, something she did by never allowing him to be more than ten feet away from her.
First surprise quote: “Shock was blind … been blind since he was two-years-old. He also had dyslexia, so he had a hard time reading anything, including braille.” (Kindle locations 40-41). Shock insisted he could do everything sighted people could do and he would not rely on anything, such as a walking cane, for help. By keeping Shock always within ten feet of her, Jean was able to keep Shock from colliding with things.
As a result of his fame, Shock knew lots of interesting and famous people. This meant Jean got to meet a lot of unusual people who liked to live off the grid. One was Sebastos Helix, a cybersecurity expert who was a recluse who demanded anonymity to such a degree that he would send assistants to speak for him at speaking engagements. A principal assistant was Erik Ransom. At first sight, Jean thought he was a quiet Asian girl. After she heard him speak, she thought he might be one of several “fairy geishas who may secretly be cybersecurity experts.” (Kindle location 62). Shock was not sure who Erik really was but he wanted to find out.
After a conference presentation, Erik left the speaker’s hall in a hurry. Shock demanded that Jean follow Erik. The trip ended at an apartment building where police were trying to coax a boy out of an apartment. The police were hesitant to enter the building due to its freezing temperatures and scattered patches of ice on the walls and ceilings inside the building. Erik was obviously familiar with the case and was about to enter the building when Shock and Jean joined him. Erik welcomed the presence of Jean as she might inspire more confidence in the boy hiding in the closet.
Jean managed to coax the unnamed child (Jean assigned him the provisional name of Michael) out of the closet. The child shivered and cried but would not speak. The trio plus Michael went to a hotel for a few days of rest and attempts to determine Michael’s story. One day, Jean watched Michael float in pursuit of a balloon. One day she found Michael in a tree. And one day she found Michael covered in frost. It seemed that Michael was a vessel for a possible dead wizard’s spirit. The former wizard was able to control the weather to produce snow, ice, and extreme cold. It appeared that Michael had this power now but had no control over it. The world was in serious trouble. Michael could produce blizzards in Florida or wherever in the word he wanted them. He couldn’t control the wanting. Erik, a trainer wizard, might be able to help but he needed the rapport Jean had with Michael in order to communicate. Jean had a new job. She would accompany Erik and Michael to a school for wizards.
There was a hitch. The school was something like the Hotel California. You could always enter but you could never leave. This entire story reads like something out of the Hotel California. The author follows a theme or path and then makes abrupt turns or strange thoughts which can amuse readers. During one trip to an airport, Jean wonders what Shock is staring at out the car window. I had the same question.
The point of this story is that the Snow Apocalypse is coming. It might be Michael’s fault even though he doesn’t intend it. The only person he will talk to is Jean. Can Erik fulfill his trainer function and save the world?
In a short story of partially developed characters, Jean is the best described character but even her description is less than satisfying. That’s okay because this is an obvious prequel/teaser to something more fully developed … I hope. It is worth reading on its own and I would give it four stars on Amazon if it were available on Amazon. For grammar and proofreading purists, there are a few problems but the story moves along at a quick pace that runs over the small mistakes. I expect they also will be corrected if enough reviewers decide to point them out.
Can the world survive Michael? Read the short story.