Review #9: Cory’s Father by Francesca Forrest

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Feb 7, 2010 in Reviews |

Author Website:
Published by: Strange Horizons, February 1, 2010

The Story:

Willow’s Daughter has five children, each with a different father. She’s found love and lost it several times over, but that’s not all she’s lost — she’s in exile, trapped here in the world of hours and days while the sounds and sights and smells from across the border mock her. Over there is another world, and only a few possess the ability to cross back and forth freely. Like Vessy’s father. Willow’s Daughter used to tell her children stories of Vessy’s father, and of Fox’s father, and of Daisy’s father…but two of her children didn’t get father stories. One is the narrator, and the other is Cory…and Cory’s Father has a story that definitely needs to be told.

The Craft: Beginnings

SPOILERS (and excessive apostrophe use)

This story opens with the mundane — a weary mother who once told her children stories about their fathers when they needed cheering up. Except that two of the children didn’t get father stories. While this opening paragraph doesn’t hint at any particular genre, it definitely pulls the reader in with a strong question: “Why don’t the two children get stories?” Also, I’m wondering why the mother has so many different baby-daddies.

In the next few paragraphs, we learn that the narrator’s father was Willow’s Daughter’s true love. More importantly, we learn about Cory’s dad, who was just a twinkle in her eye, and though Willow’s Daughter won’t say much more on the matter, the narrator knows the true story of Cory’s father, the deal he made with their mother, and why she’s unable to see one of her children. Here, my genre antenna perks up. There’s something a bit odd about a woman who can only see four out of five of her children, especially when a “deal'” is involved. The tone of this has been established as the tale of a nameless, genderless child, a nice voice, though, which has a touch of honesty to it.

Next we get into the actually story of Cory’s father, which actually starts with Vessy’s father who is one of those few that can cross the border between here and there. Willow’s Daughter is currently pregnant with Vessy, and is vexed by the coming and going of the border which is something like a cloud’s shadow that looms and smells of sweet fern. It bothers her so, she neglects her children, leaving her older children to wrangle the younger. And then our narrator catches a stranger in Willow’s Daughter’s bedroom, a stranger who takes on the form of a large crow. They talk of here and there, and of the bargain Willow’s Daughter made — the one that exiled her. We’re clearly in a fantastical world now. There’s not a whole lot of setting or characterization, but there are a lot of questions that keep cropping up, and that’s what keeps the reader going, and quite effectively, I might add.

In fact, I wanted this story to keep going. The end sprung up on me suddenly, and although the story told me what it promised me (Cory’s Father’s story) I felt like I was left with a lot of questions that were never answered. Like what’s up with the narrator’s father’s story? What deal did Willow’s Daughter make to get her exiled? And what exactly is over there? To me, this felt like the first scene in a larger story, and I would love to see it continue.

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