Hilda Greer's love affair with the violin began at the age of seven, when she attended a performance by the virtuoso Phillip Manns. She believed him with a child's faith when he declared himself the reincarnation of Niccolò Paganini and then dashed from the stage, his mind in ruins.
Nearly a decade after his breakdown, Phillip Manns is a recluse, insulated against the temptations of music—until a former colleague begs him to teach at a nearby conservatory. It's there that he meets Hilda, who's come to audition and plays the piece that started it all: Paganini's Le Streghe, or Witches' Dance.
Entranced by the character of Hilda's playing and unable to resist the siren call of music, Phillip takes Hilda under his wing. The two start a witches' dance of their own, a whirlwind that sweeps them toward the International Paganini Competition. When their curtain falls, one will bask in the music world's acclaim—and the other's world will be shattered completely.
Erin Eileen Almond is originally from East Hartford, Connecticut, and attended the Hartford Conservatory. Her short stories, essays, and reviews have been published in The Boston Globe, Colorado Review, and Normal School, and on The Rumpus.net and WBUR's Cognoscenti. She is a graduate of the UC-Irvine MFA program and Wesleyan University, and a recipient of a St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artists Grant. Erin currently lives outside Boston with her husband, Steve, and their three children.