Monday, October 31, 2016
31 Days of Halloween - Day 31
Fledgling by Octavia Butler
Seven Stories Press. 2005.
Physically an eleven year old black girl, Shori Matthews wakes up blind, with burns covering most of her body and serious skull fractures in two locations. She is able to quickly heal her physical wounds but her memories prior to her awakening are gone. It's apparent that Shori is not a normal human being and in her search to recover her memories, discover who she is, and what happened to her, she discovers that she's an Ina, what we would call a vampire, and also the target for a group set upon destroying her because she's also something more.
I first read this book upon its initial publication and was just stunned by how well it works. I was already well aware that Butler was a first rate author, but Fledgling succeeds in every aspect: the mystery behind Shori and her amnesia (which also works as a perfect way to bring in exposition as needed); Butler's fascinating biological and anthropological approach to the Ina, making them at once familiar as vampires and new and fascinating in the approach to how they function as both living organisms and as a culture; the rich, well-rounded characters; and the threat of being pursued by the unknown. While it is a completely satisfying self-contained story, it's clear that Butler had planned to explore this world further in subsequent books. Unfortunately Butler died in 2006 at the age of 58.