Daughters Of A Coral Dawn by Katherine V Forrest is the first book in the utopian trilogy. This story is about love: ardent romantic love, love of family and fellow kinswoman, love of self and love for the new planet the descendants of Mother are blessed to inhabit. In addition, loyalty and obedience is also underscored throughout the book.
Mother is an alien female ‘with breasts like canteloupes’ who has been smuggled to Earth by Father, a crew chief in the Space Service. The family eventually has to live in isolation due to Mother’s odd behavior. She bears him nine daughters as a result of one pregnancy and the genetic mix means there will never be sons. After five generations, the extended family believe they are about to be persecuted so they decide to escape.
Megan, is the great-granddaughter of Mother, she bears the heavy responsibility of safely navigating an escape route for her family and herself from the harsh laws of Earth’s leaders to a new, uninhabited planet where they can all have a fresh start. Safety is their number one concern as the women strive to build their society with the constant apprehension of being discovered by their former planet. Everything that happens is faithfully recorded by Minerva, their historian. Thirteen years later, the society of women settle into their lives and then the unthinkable happens—somehow a spacecraft with Earth men and a woman find their lovely Coral home and a decision must be made about them. Again, Megan is tasked with protecting and leading her colony. She is wedged between doing what is morally right and what is necessary to protect those who rely on her. Can Megan be true to her heart and still be able to safeguard her family?
Valden: Mother is the Eve of the Coral World. She is respected and almost worshipped by the rest of the women. She gives up the leadership as she realizes that she is both getting older and wanting more freedom from worrying about her family. She also recognizes she does not have the knowledge to build a new colony on an unfamiliar planet. As the story progresses, she grows into a caricature of an older, slightly eccentric woman.
April: Indeed, Mother is the Eve of the Coral World because her descendants see her as the beginning of their unique species and as the head of their family. Mother chooses Megan to lead and carry out her wishes because she wanted a young and experienced descendant who would be capable of designing and governing a new colony. Mother believed that Megan was the perfect person to protect and guide the family.
Megan is so knowledgeable yet so vulnerable because everyone in her family places the burden of their well-being, salvation and future endeavors squarely upon her shoulders. I love her strength, loyalty and sharp mind. When Megan makes decisions she does it in the best interest of everyone involved. She is so full of love and life, I yearned for Megan to find a soul-mate to love her the way she deserved to be loved.
Valden: I also wanted Megan to find someone, but when she took the leadership role she vowed celibacy and I loved her sense of honour. She kept everyone at arms-length even when at times it was a struggle. I found her so lonely that is was heartbreaking.
Minerva is the narrator for many sections of the story and is a very obedient daughter, focusing on Megan, as instructed by her mother. Because she is the narrator, there is little written that is personal to her early in the story. Later, her personal side is visible and we realize that she is always looking at the greater good and discounting her own happiness.
April: I agree. I was endeared to Minerva by her kindness, empathetic nature, great curiosity, and the zealous need to record everything that occurred on Earth and on the new planet. She had been through so many rough seasons in her life and she was still able to move on and find happiness in the most unexpected way.
Valden: Lieutenant Laurel Meredith is the exobiologist on the Earth ship that disturbs the peace of the women. She arrives resplendent in her uniform along with three men who obviously make all their decisions without her and treat her badly. The world of the women is a real surprise, and she finds herself having to make some very important decisions about her life.
April: I loved Laurel’s loving nature and her open-minded approach to the women who inhabit the Coral world. Even though their customs were unfamiliar to her, she was able to bond with the women and form one of the most important unions in her life.
The Writing Style
April: I enjoyed the author’s lyrical style of writing that brought this beautiful story and its amazing characters to life. Even though the story is told through the eyes of Minerva and Megan, I was able to connect with the other important characters within the story. In addition, the scenery of the new world was so clearly described that I felt as though the author bestowed on me a delightful snapshot of this Coral world.
Valden: The book is beautifully written in a simple, and as April says, lyrical style. It reflects the softness and sweetness of the lives of the women in their world, including their togetherness, their decision making and their harmony. There is such a contrast in writing at the arrival of the men. It moves from the lyrical to almost strident. Immediately there is aggression and roughness, shouting, fear, threats and violence. It is so cleverly done.
I also enjoyed the beginning. I was immediately thrown into the story and being given all sorts of information in the first few pages. I could almost hear Katherine V Forrest saying “Come along. Keep up! Keep up!” Within pages I was totally immersed.
April: This superb story is an exaltation of women! I really enjoyed reading about the numerous talents the women in the story possessed. The story has the perfect blend of fantasy/sci-fi and romance that kept me intrigued throughout.
Valden: The concept of a world of women and the appearance of men with their views of the alternative lifestyle and what subsequently happens was a timely read with the events in the world today.
April: The women are all descendants of Mother, therefore the women are in incestuous relationships with each other. Mother can also come across as a dictator because her decisions affect the lives of all the women. Her decisions are rarely questioned and even if they are questioned, Mother always has the final say.
Valden: I totally agree with April on this. However, the incestuous relationships are between alien beings whose genetics are managed and I had to get my head around this to accept that was how the women lived their lives.
Valden: I really loved this book particularly because it was published 33 years ago and at the time this was a courageous subject to approach. It may be difficult to understand how amazing it was. But a story about sexual love between women, on a planet full of women, in a time when many lesbians (including myself) were not out and lived lives that did not bring attention to themselves was so unusual. Go buy it, read it and think about how much has changed in the world since this was written and, interestingly how much has stayed the same!
April: If you love futuristic stories with a medley of sci-fi/fantasy and romance, then this is definitely the one for you. It’s was beautifully crafted with the intention of celebrating womanhood in each and every phase of life. The women’s countless contributions to society was emphasized and it validated the many skills the women possessed. This book made my heart glad because all of the women expressed their strength in numerous ways and that made me love not only the characters but the entire story.
Excerpt from Daughters Of A Coral Dawn by Katherine V Forrest
Diana tapped a key. A tall, blade-slender figure with tousled dark hair, simply clad in a white shirt and dark pants, looked up from a computer board, long slim fingers holding a laser design stylus, rectangular green eyes irritated as if in resentment of having to relinquish these moments to have her likeness recorded.
“She has your eyes Mother,” I said. “That exact remarkable color. I know of no other in our Unity to inherit that color.
Venus murmured, staring at the screen, “I’ll follow her anywhere.”
“Of all my girls,” Mother said to Venus, “you are the most aptly named.” She asked Hera, “Is she… attached?”
“Not to my knowledge.”
“For lack of time, not opportunity,” Mother mused, appraising the arresting figure on the screen. “Historically it hasn’t been necessary, but it’s advantageous for a leader to have… physical appeal. Especially if she remains unattached.”
Venus said with a shudder, “The only major leaders in history to remain celibate were the rulers of that religious sect-” She knitted her lovely brow.
“Catholicism,” I supplied.
“And numbers of them were none too faithful to the ideal,” Olympia said tartly.
“Never has a leader faced this situation,” Mother said thoughtfully, “except for the leader in that Biblical legend of the Promised Land…”
For some hours we debated leadership attributes, fed coordinates into our data banks, examined and discussed other possible candidates-but all of us had been stirred by the imperious young woman who had stared at us with such impatience.
“The first one,” Mother said. “Let me see her again.”
Again the young woman stared resentfully at us with her arresting emerald eyes.
“A leader should always dress consistently,” Mother said thoughtfully. “She may very well do…” She smiled. “Diana dear, what is the etymology of her name? Not that I believe in portents, of course.”
All of us hid smiles. Her selection of our names had placed even greater expectations upon all of us. Diana’s slim fingers fed the question to the data banks.
“Well well,” Mother said as we all read the answer on the screen. “The strong and the able. Many aspects appear to favor her, this… Megan.”
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9781594933042
Publisher: Bella Books
Katherine V Forrest Online
Note: I received a free review copy of Daughters Of A Coral Dawn by Katherine V Forrest. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.