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Bob @ Beauty in Ruins

PLEASE NOTE: I'm rarely active here anymore, but please feel free to follow me on Goodreads, where I post regularly.


These are the chronicles of a book addict, a photo junkie, and an aspiring author, rewriting the very fabric of reality one page (and one snapshot) at a time. From the strange to the unusual; the abandoned to the abnormal; the haunted to the historic; the supernatural to the surreal; the forests of dark fantasy, the cemeteries of gothic horror, and the post-apocalyptic ruins of science fiction are the landscapes of my imagination.

Currently reading

Deathstalker Rebellion: Being the Second Part of the Life and Times of Owen Deathstalker
Simon R. Green
Progress: 298/508 pages

Tough Travels with . . . Moms

Every Thursday, Nathan (over at Fantasy Review Barn) leads the gang in touring the mystical countryside, looking for fun and adventure. His Tough Traveling feature picks one of the most common tropes in fantasy each week, as seen in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones, and invites us to join in the adventure. All are invited to take part, so if you're joining the journey late, no worries . . . we'll save you a spot in the caravan.

This week’s tour topic is: MOMS

Everyone has a mother, including people in fantasyland. Just in time to be slightly early for Mother's Day.


Okay, if we're going to talk moms, then I think we have to kick things off with the women of Stephen King. First up is super-uptight, fanatically-religious Margaret White - mother to teenage Carrie. This is a woman who is frightened by anything feminine, disgusted by anything sexual, and who only sees her daughter as a shameful reminder of that one horrific time she had sex. On top of that, she sees Carrie as an unholy abomination, a child she once tried to kill because of her evil telekinetic abilities. Her death is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise horrifically depressing tale.



To be fair, Stephen King doesn't just write evil mothers - although his heroes do have a tendency to be somewhat damaged or sullied. Case in point, we have Donna Trenton, the adulterous wife but loving mother ofCujo. Her affair is crucial to the story, as it not only helps drive her husband away, but also distracts him from realizing where she is, and potentially coming to her rescue sooner. In the meantime, trapped in a broken down car with her toddler, she fights off dehydration, heatstroke, and a rabid dog to keep Tad alive, braving the rabid fury of Cujo's rabid bites multiple times.



In Clive Barker's Weaveworld, Immacolata, The Hag, and Magdalene are triplet sisters, the latter two of whom Immacolata strangled to death in the womb. The Hag survives as a ghost, while Magdalene survives as an ectoplasmic fiend, with the two of them sharing some odd Motherly duties. Magdalene frequently rapes defenseless men, and then gives birth to their brutally deformed offspring (called by-blows) hours later, at which time The Hag examines the afterbirth for her prophetic tellings. Magdalene is about as dark and horrific as a mother gets, being both beautiful and hideous, seductive and terrifying, with her abominations one of the most horrific aspects of the book.



Like King, however, not all of Clive Barker's mothers are evil . . . although they do tend towards the monstrous. Allow me to draw your attention to The Madonna and her daughters from the Books of Blood. The Madonna herself, as the name suggests, is a hermaphroditic sort of virgin mother, a grotesque headless, limbless creature, swimming beneath the surface of an abandoned basement swimming pool, who gives birth to monstrous offspring - which are then lovingly nursed by her beautiful nymph-like daughters. Although Garvey sees the women and their children as monstrous creatures of horror and disgust, and is driven mad by the gender transformation they inflict upon him, Jerry can see the loving, nurturing aspect beneath the monstrous, and ultimately accepts his own gender transformation as a sort of miracle.