Mothers just disappear. It is their ‘affliction,’ the girls believe. No one knows who will be the next to go, or when, or why. Although the town speculates, considering every anomaly of behavior as an omen of a disappearance.
The town is isolated, in a mountain jungle enveloped by mist. They make baskets to exchange for goods delivered from Elsewhere. The girls bond in threesomes, so if one disappears they have one friend left. They marry young and have children who they obsessively love. And, they are filled with anxiety, fearful their mothering is insufficient and will cause them to be the next woman to disappear in the night.
When a stranger comes into the town, she is at first embraced. The girls all vie to be near her. She becomes especially close to one girl. This stranger from Elsewhere crosses a boundary that makes her not only unwelcome, but a threat to everything they believe.
Elsewhere by Alexis Shaitkin is an eerie dystopian story, a kind of fable about motherhood. It is about the drive to escape from the place and relationships of our birth that we deeply love, and the fervent, fraught relationship of mother and daughter.
I received an ARC from the publisher. My review is fair and unbiased.