Sunday, January 6, 2013

Review of "Father Juniper's Journey to the North" by Grania Davis

"Father Juniper's Journey to the North" by Grania Davis appeared in the September/October 2012 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  "In the late 1700's, in what is now California, a priest wonders if his proselytizing of the native Americans is really in their best interest."

The plight of the native Americans makes for a sad tale, and Ms. Davis' is no exception.  However, she does manage to tell her story without being preachy--no small feat in a story whose POV character is a priest!  There is also a significant amount of humor it the tale--the antics of an old sow and a white monkey being chief among them.  Ms. Davis' use of humor serves to break up the horror a little bit, the way Shakespeare often did in his tragedies.  

The story reads like historical fiction, but the inclusion of the religious experiences of the native Americans brings a strong speculative element into the mix.  At the end of the tale (which I will not spoil here), Ms. Davis draws adroitly on this element to bring her story to a satisfying, if horrifying, conclusion.

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