Review of Will Reierson, “Daughter”, in Myths, Monsters, and Mutations, edited by Jessica Augustsson (JayHenge Publications, 2017): 249-256. — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)
The title draws focus to the daughter in the story, but from the start it is Mary’s father, Neil, the narrator, who attracts my attention — and not for positive reasons. He is willing to ignore the fears of his wife, Cáit, and sacrifice the safety of his family simply to prove himself in the face of a dare. Oh, he has his own fears — but his fears of the fair folk pale in comparison to the more legitimate fears of his wife that they will struggle to survive the winter in an abandoned homestead. Throughout the story, my biggest impression is that Neil is both superstitious and a bit dim, and the consequences of both these things for his family, and especially his daughter, are real and serious. It makes it hard for me to find him sympathetic, in that basically that everything that happens to Mary is his fault, and he could have prevented it, at many different steps, and he refused to do so. That he eventually does all he can to rescue Mary in the end does not make him the hero of this story. It only reinforces that villainy comes in many different guises.
(In case anyone was wondering (and I doubt anyone was), Cáit is not a plausible nickname of Caitilín in the middle of the 18th century. Details matter. It’s worth doing the research.)