I read this one a while ago but didn’t review it because its Smashwords edition was pulled by Meikle.
However, it will be re-released by Unnevering on February 20, 2019.
Review: The Auld Mither, William Meikle, 2017.
Let’s get some things out of the way right away.
Meikle’s S Squad isn’t going to show up and save anybody from the bloodbath in this novella. None of the Seton clan swoops in to explain what’s going on. There’s not a Meikle’s Sigils and Totems house where the dead can be seen again.
This is a compelling horror story of the old school blending folklore, family drama, and a police procedural.
The story opens with George Duncan making a desperate pitch at a board meeting, trying to make the “country hicks” of “this small town on the edge of the Highlands” realize that the future of their community lies in modernizing his slaughterhouse that processes deer from a farm. Things get heated with George swearing at the board to shock them out of their complacency.
Then things get really bad when someone shows up and kills everybody at the meeting, dismembering their bodies into butcher cuts. There’s a grim bit of humor at the end of the scene with blood running down a screen showing a slide saying “ABBATOIR: PROPOSED ENLARGEMENT”.
Dave and Lucy, George’s children, then arrive in town to put their father’s business affairs in order. Dave was very estranged from his father, a man disgusted that Dave the boy would not prove his steel by slaughtering animals.
The story not only follows the Duncan children but Detective Inspector Roberts, a transplant from Glasgow, and Sergeant MacLeod trying to solve the puzzling murders at that board meeting.
But Dave will have his views on his father and his childhood challenged as he talks to the locals. Roberts will start hearing rattling bones and mutterings about the “auld mither” who looks after her own and that the murders at the board meeting were “a one woman show”. The auld mither is a nature goddess, granter of wishes, and protector of the land.
The ending goes to a place I didn’t expect as George has to make a life-or-death decision between the old ways and the new.