Tough Traveling is a weekly feature, created and hosted by Nathan at the Fantasy Review Barn, in which participants come up with a list of books that follow the fantasy tropes that can be found in Diana Wynne Jones’ The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. Each week, Nathan picks a new subject. In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday, this week’s topic is:
MOMS: Everyone has a mother. Including people in fantasyland. Just in time to be slightly early for Mother’s Day.
OK, I’ll admit some of my choices are not exactly fantasy, but hey, that’s just the way I’m rolling with this! I was thinking at first I would divide my choices into two categories, “good moms” and “bad moms,” but it looks like every example I came up with falls on the “good mom” side. Nothing wrong with that!
Gaunt and Bone series by Chris Willrich. In this series, Persimmon Gaunt is the mother, and what a cool mom she is. She’s still pregnant when The Scroll of Years begins, which is a bit unusual in fantasyland, and then when she has her baby, she and her partner Imago Bone end up hiding him in a magical scroll for safekeeping. OK, so they basically abandon their child, but it’s not without reason. Gaunt still gets points for being a good mom!
Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory. Teenaged Harrison actually has two moms in this story, or at least two women who take on the roll of mother. First, his real mom drags him to the creepy seaside town of Dunnsmouth in order to look for an elusive sea creature. But when she is apparently lost at sea, Harrison’s Aunt Sel comes to Dunnsmouth to stay with him and act as his guardian, and she was one of my favorite characters in the book. If you haven’t read Harrison Squared yet, you really should:-D
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes. I adored the characters in this story, especially teenaged Layla and her mother Gabi. Gabi is a single mother who is not only raising Layla by herself, but she’s also a detective, and has a pretty dangerous job. When Layla engages in some risky online behavior, Gabi’s job gets even harder, because a serial killer is on the loose in Detroit. Gabi definitely gets the “single mom” award!
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. The “mother” in this story isn’t a true mother. Miss Justineau is actually a teacher, but she might as well be Melanie’s mom, as she is the most loving person in her very small world. This zombie story had so much unexpected emotion, mostly due to the wonderfully drawn characters. There’s no need to look any further for a perfect example of a mom in genre fiction.
Three by Jay Posey. Wren is a small boy who lives in a very bleak dystopian future, where zombie-like creatures called the Weir roam at night, looking for unlucky humans to be caught outside the gates. His mother Cass is on a mission: to take Wren to safety in another town. Doing that means crossing a very dangerous area called the Strand, where there are very few places to hide from the Weir. Cass is a firm but loving mother who only wants the best for her son.
I know there are lots more great examples of moms. Let me know what I’ve missed!