Review of Rosemary Melchior, “Salt”, Luna Station Quarterly 41 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.
The story opens on Sigga arriving on a deserted island populated by criminals, the ship bearing her and others condemned to exile. Her crimes might not be as bad as some, but they have earned her the label “witch”, and that’s bad enough.
The settlers already there seem remarkably straight-laced and law-abiding given their reason for being there, criminals all — it’s as if whatever drove them to crime in their previous life has been removed or rehabilitated on this island. But a safe place in a peaceful settlement is no lure for Sigga, who opts for a life lived alone and untrusted.
It’s a powerful story of a man’s word against a woman’s, and how easy it is to damage a reputation forever, a story of how women must be punished — “There are many ways to punish a girl.” In the end, we see only a glimpse of Sigga’s vengeance for the wrongs that have been done to her.