Lullaby for a Lost World by Aliette de Bodard

Upfront, this story is very gothic and puts me right into the mindset of The House of Usher. There’s dark magic at play, people who are isolating themselves from society, an innocent victim.  Though unlike that particular Poe story, the victim at some point decides it will no longer be one.   A terrible sadness permeates this entire story because the victim here is a young child.  Only the darkest of individuals can feel nothing when a horrid event strikes the most innocent among us.

And believe me this child has something horrific done to her in order to maintain the safety of a family that seems pretty reprehensible. I feel like the “master” in this story serves as a symbol for what the entire household is like.  He’s a terrible man who’s built a wall of justification around himself to keep doing what he does.  His good intentions have created a pseudo-Hell for all of those residing in this household.

My one minor gripe with this story is that the child didn’t read like a child. And that makes me wonder if maybe she wasn’t a child at all and I missed something though the doll clutching certainly made me assume child.  But this narration felt like a very intelligent, capable adult.  I tried to rationalize it out as maybe the child’s spirit growing in maturity, but nothing in the story really indicated that either.  But honestly, it’s a small thing I can get over when matched up against the beauty of the prose.


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