REVIEW: “Kaitlin’s Unicorns” by L. L. Asher

Review of L. L. Asher, “Kaitlin’s Unicorns”, in David G. Clark, Callum Colback, Joe Butler, and Alex Hareland, eds., Beneath Strange Stars, (TL;DR Press, 2020): 211-220 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Content note: death of a child, death of a disabled person, cruelty to animals, contemplation of suicide, ableism.

I kept adding new items to the content note while reading the story — never a very good sign. In a nutshell, Margret is mourning the recent-ish death of her daughter, Kaitlin, by escaping into the nearby forest that Kaitlin always imagined one day she’d meet a unicorn in. Well, Margret meets the unicorn, and what happens afterwards is not pleasant. I get that Margret is hurting, but despite the obvious pain she’s in, she is not a sympathetic character: Pain and sorrow is never an excuse for violence. Add to this the “twist” that after Kaitlin’s death the “unicorn fixed everything” (p. 220) — i.e., Kaitlin is alive and no longer wheelchair bound — and, well, there was just so much about this story I didn’t like, unfortunately. This is not the disability rep I want to be seeing.