Author Topic: PC342: The World Is Cruel, My Daughter  (Read 6218 times)


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on: December 19, 2014, 10:16:50 AM
PodCastle 342: The World Is Cruel, My Daughter

by Cory Skerry

Read by Danielle Daly

Originally published in Fantasy Magazine. Read it here!

When my daughter was one year old, I loved her for her smile. Anything could tempt her to joy—my own smile, the noises of cooking food, the proximity of the black kitten I gifted her upon her arrival.

What a fool I made of myself, contorting my face and making unlady-like sounds. All I needed was another giggle and the game would go on. She couldn’t yet ask questions I couldn’t answer and was delighted by the information I volunteered. “Kitty,” “No, it’s hot,” and “Boo!” all brought smiles. Even when she disobeyed me, I never struck her. My disappointment was enough to bring her to tears and she would pour herself dry on my bosom before looking up once again with a hopeful smile. Did I forgive her?

Of course I did.

When my daughter was five, I loved her for her eyes. They were the impossible purplish hue of forget-me-nots. We don’t have them in the salt marsh where I built our tower. Her eyes told me what she would say before she said it. But sometimes she still surprised me.

I bit my tongue when she asked me why our house had no windows on the bottom floor. She still hadn’t conceived of a “door.” I knew she would ask some day, but then, on that cool April morning, I wasn’t prepared.

“The sea rages in the winter, poppet. We don’t have room for her to live with us, do we?”

Rated R. Contains violence, including some suggestions of. It’s a fairy tale retelling, after all.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!


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Reply #1 on: December 19, 2014, 08:43:26 PM
This story was beautiful and terrible. Terrible in the good way. Excellent reading, too.


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Reply #2 on: December 21, 2014, 11:52:49 PM
It's interesting that in this version, the witch gains nothing from Rapunzel except love and joy in her presence (until she inevitably grows and tries to stretch her wings and thus "betrays" the witch). In "Tangled" the witch gains power from Rapunzel, but I don't remember whether she gains anything from her in the original fairy tale, unless it's revenge on her parents (but maybe I'm conflating that with Sleeping Beauty).
Anyway, I thought the witch's voice was powerful and consistent (although sadly possessive and paranoid). A strong story.


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Reply #3 on: December 23, 2014, 04:10:46 AM
Wow. That was a really dark, powerful story. Appropriate, for the darkest time of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere at least).

At first I wasn't really sure I bought into the witch's "Kill All The Menz" motivation, and that someone as obviously intelligent as this woman would harbor such a ludicrously oversimplified perspective. But after thinking on it some, and what she went through as evidenced by all her burns, I think I can see it. I suppose dudes are the white, fluffy things to her Little Albert--the power of conditioning has made her overextend that association to extreme lengths.

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Reply #4 on: December 28, 2014, 02:35:21 PM
I like dark tales, and this one certainly qualifies. While I am not convinced the narrator was a witch, her pain and madness were clear and added to the beauty of the story in such a macabre and perfect way.


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Reply #5 on: January 03, 2015, 03:59:12 AM
Wow, talk about a punch to the gut! This story was almost too unrelentingly dark, with the few bright spots being expended very early on. I want to feel sympathy for the "witch" given the trauma she went through, but her extreme and unremitting response ("kill all the menz") makes me unable to even pity her. Also, the trauma in her past was extreme to the point of caricature, but I suppose that's just the nature of fairy tales.


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Reply #6 on: January 05, 2015, 03:21:01 PM
Ooh, so dark but with a plausibly horrible villain, one who is just trying to react to the world as she understands it and warping everything about her to fit that image--I felt really bad for her daughter.


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Reply #7 on: February 05, 2015, 11:38:46 PM
As a parent of growing-up-too-fast children, I can relate to the mother here.  There is such a temptation to keep them young and innocent and happy at the expense of growth.  Because growth requires pain.  And watching your children in pain is one of the worst things you can experience.


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Reply #8 on: February 06, 2015, 07:40:33 AM
Wow, this story blew my mind. Generally, I can notice when a story has a fairytail-like theme or foundation going, but this time I had no idea until the daughter literally let her hair down and even then, I questioned its relation to the original Rapunzel because of its own novelty. Great retelling in such a new way, a totally different perspective. Loved it!


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Reply #9 on: February 19, 2015, 12:56:28 AM
Pretty much a slam dunk on this one. I can still see rapunzel (disneys rapunzel) hanging there, feet dangling, her face grey and against luminous hair. Heck ya! Awesome creepy!