Thursday, May 7, 2015

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 of Cujo. 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 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.


  1. Those are some twisted evil mothers.

  2. Oh duh Carrie! The most scary and horrid mother ever! Stephen King does have lots of great examples, both good and bad.

  3. I don't know if my original post posted. :-( But I said I thought these were great choices and a great way to run with the theme by using scary moms! :-)

    Tiara @ Bibliosanctum

  4. Great list! And Carrie's mother will remind us all to appreciate our mothers that much more! :)

  5. I like how you choose two diametrically opposed examples of mothers from Stephen King: brilliant examples!

  6. Wow this is some list!
    Great pick with Carrie's mom, that lady was really crazy. The Weaveworld trio sounds terrifiying!

  7. I love your inclusion of Carrie. That's a great choice.
    Lynn :D

  8. Way to go with the terrifying mothers! Donna Trent doesn't sound TOO bad.

  9. Haha, you weren't kidding about your list of twisted, scary mothers!

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

  10. What a great list of scary moms!

  11. Oh my god, Weaveworld sounds horrific! Yet also morbidly fascinating. :D