So far as I know, they’re all dead.
Wow. So I read this first story from Lava Falls in bed (as I often read collections and anthologies, one story at a time before sleep) and then stared at the dark ceiling for a good half-hour afterward, the story turning itself over and over in my head.
Narratively, the set-up is deceptively simple: a woman who, as a child, was taken into the Alaskan wilderness by her father alongside her mother and two brothers, is returning to that place. Her father, a survivalist heavier on the dreams side, not as clear on his understanding of the practicalities of what survivalism would entail, took them without choice.
The story unfolds in pieces: this woman (who at some point escaped) is now returning, and those pieces drop throughout the story with frankly perfect timing. This stunning tale had me completely enraptured. How did she escape? Did she escape? What happened to the family she left behind? What will happen when she is face-to-face with them, if they’re not dead?
Just all-around fantastic, frankly.