Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Mothers of Voorhisville, by Mary Rickert

Tor.com, April 2014

This is a 2015 World Fantasy Award nominee for Best Novella.

This is a horror story.

I don't like horror stories.

I like this horror story.

A very handsome man named Jeffrey comes to the dingy small town of Voorhisville, and charms all the women he meets. They aren't even put off by the fact that he drives around in a hearse. The story unfolds for us in a number of voices--fifteen-year-old Ellie, her mother Theresa, widowed Sylvia, and others, as well as a collective voice calling itself "The Mothers."

Each becomes pregnant, and each gives birth to a beautiful baby boy. Jeffrey, by this time, is long gone.

The babies all have wings. Hard, sharp, black wings you can cut yourself on.

Each of the women hides the secret of her baby's wings, for as long as she can. They are even slower to realize that they have all had the same lover. But as their babies start to fly, one by one, they realize the other women have the same problem.

The horror builds slowly, in their paranoid protection of their babies, in the reactions of those around them, in their almost accidental gathering at the Ratcher farm, and in the utterly reasonable-seeming tone of the Mothers' collective account of their decisions and actions.

Beautifully  written, subtle, and effective. Highly recommended.