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Road Essays
FF00CC: orphans in the maze of the city

FF0099: an orphan in a city labyrinth: a close reading of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere

FF0066: Orphans going offroad in the city

FF0033: An orphan's journey to the big city by way of the Blue Highway

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FF0066: Orphans going offroad in the city: 03/22/19

January book sources

The next way the orphan gets to or through the city is via an offroad manner. The two examples I'm showing are journeys through and around their respective cities. These two books are: Calamity Jack by Shannon Hale (2010) and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (2013).

Like the orphan in the city by way of the labyrinth, these examples are travels through a city. These are travelers with ties to the city who are forced to go there, or returning after a sojourn somewhere else.

For Jack, it's both. First it's his backstory of growing up in the city, an indigenous person living with his mother and being forced into thievery by those in power. For Tara, she is trying to find family sent to one of the coldtowns, cities walled up to keep the vampires inside. Tara is isolated from the non-infected masses. She can survive because she is alone.

While Jack returns to the city with Rapunzel to fight the Ant People, most of the narrative is his transformation into the man who is now returning as a hero. Most of the work he has done to become a hero, to survive, he has done on his own as an orphan traveler.

The city for Jack is one of return. He's going to show Rapunzel his home and to her to his kith and kin. He's also going to save the city and right some wrongs. He's going to use the skills he learned as a thief for the greater good. The city is his landscape for going offroad — primarily through the air and over rooftops.

The city for Tara is one of isolation. It has been cut off from the rest of the world, becoming a giant vampire ghetto. It's not a single neighborhood cut off; it's the entire city. With her car abandoned at the gate, her methods of travel are by foot and through similar unconventional paths as Jack.

Both examples are at the crossing over point between fantasy and horror. Calamity Jack is a blend of Western and horror (of the giant bug kind) with fantasy elements (magic and trolls). The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is straight up urban horror, blending the pathogen thrillers of Robin Cook with vampirism.

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