This is one of my cards for the Deal Me In Challenge: the 7 of Hearts, which is the suit I dedicated to stories on audio. I was keeping up with my list until I fell behind in May. I will try to catch up this month by reading two at a time for a while.
I have read this short story before and listened to the audiobook twice now.
The audio version is read by the author with musical accompaniment by the FourPlay String Quartet. It is an hour and 23 minutes. I loved the audio reading. I would like to listen to more of Gaiman’s audio books. (I listened to Norse Mythology earlier this year.) Apparently there is an illustrated version as well.
I think this is one of Gaiman’s best short stories. It is set in Scotland.
“You ask me if I can forgive myself? I can forgive myself for many things. For where I left him. For what I did. But I will not forgive myself for the year that I hated my daughter, when I believed her to have run away, perhaps to the city. During that year I forbade her name to be mentioned, and if her name entered my prayers when I prayed, it was to ask that she would one day learn the meaning of what she had done, of the dishonour that she had brought to my family, of the red that ringed her mother’s eyes.”
The narrator describes himself as a “wee man” (and later, as a dwarf). His mother was human, and so is his wife. He can run faster than ordinary men, and he can communicate with spirits. He hires a man named Calum McInnes to be his guide to a cave in the black mountains. The cave is known for its gold, but the locals avoid it. They say that taking the gold corrupts you. The narrator is not concerned about this because the gold is not what he wants from this trip, anyway.
The story is delightfully creepy, and apparently there is also an illustrated version. I would like to read it sometime.
“I am old now, or at least, I am no longer young, and everything I see reminds me of something else I’ve seen, such that I see nothing for the first time. A bonny girl, her hair fiery red, reminds me only of another hundred such lasses, and their mothers, and what they were as they grew, and what they looked like when they died. It is the curse of age, that all things are reflections of other things.
I say that, but my time on the Misty Isle, that is also called, by the wise, the Winged Isle, reminds me of nothing but itself.
It is a day from that jetty until you reach the black mountains.”