Gossamer Axe is a stand-alone novel by Gael Baudino. It’s a Tam Lin-like story about a young woman attempting to rescue her lover from the Sidh. This is complicated by the modern setting and the way the Sidh Realm is receding from the world. You can tell this book was written in the late 80s because the cover blurb very cleverly fails to mention that Our Heroine’s lover is a girl.
Our Heroine is stumped at finding a way to defeat the Sidh bard holding her lover captive, until she discovers rock and roll. She helps various ladies find their inner goddess and rocks out, while the author discusses domestic violence (while conflating it with the D/s scene), and makes a case for Christianity ruining Ireland. (This theory is mostly grounded in Gael Baudino’s religious beliefs as she is a Dianic Wiccan.) When I was much younger I really liked this book, which is really, really hard to find. The re-read was an odd combination of nostalgia and “what the heck was I thinking at the time.”
CHRISTA: I am a strange and literally anachronistic figure with a harp!
I am also a Not Very Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
KEVIN: I am an Irish American who plays blues guitar and has to put up with really frigging stupid Irish jokes from my co-worker who is a douche.
MELINDA: I am a former rocker who quit rocking because of drugs and poor life choices! CHRISTA is giving me harp lessons! I do not notice at all that Christa is kind of strange and assigns weird additional responsibilities to being a harpist! I decide to introduce Christa to rock and roll!
*Now have a brief musical interlude! The villain of the piece is Orfide, a Sidh bard. He has a great deal of magic and part of what he does is ensure that nothing ever changes in the Sidh Realm. Nothing. Ever. Changes. It is like Groundhog’s Day or that one StarGate SG-1 episode only less entertaining because you are stuck in the middle of it instead of watching it on TV.*
ORFIDE: *finishes playing harp!*
LAMCRANN the Sidh King: *standard formulaic compliment*
CUMAD the Sidh Queen: *standard formulaic compliment*
ORFIDE: *standard being a complete douchelord* Did you like my performance SIUB?
SIUB: *bored out of her mind* It was lovely except it’s exactly the same as the ten billion other times you’ve played the same damn piece.
ORFIDE: But you and your girlfriend decided to come listen to me play which is how you ended up in Groundhog Day Hell, why are you complaining now?
SIUB: Because you’re a douchelord.
CUMAD: Oh, please don’t fight.
LAMCRANN: SIUB it would be so much better if you were more “cooperative.”
CUMAD: Oh, please don’t fight.
SIUB: You people are driving me crazy!
ORFIDE: If you’re so tired of us, why don’t you leave like your long dead girlfriend did?
SIUB: She’s not dead, she escaped and with your best harp!
CEIS: ❤ CHRISTA ❤
ORFIDE: *hiss* She escaped but she’s dead.
SIUB: She isn’t dead!
LAMCRANN: She is totally dead.
CUMAD: Oh, please don’t fight.
SIUB: Good grief, even this is a repeat! *storms off.*
*Interlude again, in which Christa dreams the rest of the backstory!*
KEVIN: My life is empty and I am unhappy and let me give you my backstory which involves a racist and extremely dysfunctional family. Then I ran away and was taught by a blues musician who died while we were on the road, an experience that scarred me emotionally.
MELINDA: FML I was contacted by one of my poor life choices, who I do not want to have anything to do with because that part of my life is so over. I will now take my harp teacher to see Yngwie Malmsteen!
ROCK: HEY BABE I BET WE COULD GO PLACES.
CHRISTA: Wow. I bet I would be able to kick Orfide’s ass with this.
*Meanwhile in the Realm of the Sidh: “What the heck was that noise just now?”*
WRITER: I will now use KEVIN to introduce you to another of the other characters! I will also introduce KEVIN to CHRISTA and introduce you to someone who mostly exists to give KEVIN an emotional arc where he can finally deal with his relationship with his family.
CHRISTA: Hello I am the oddest guitar student in the world.
KEVIN: I do not even know why you’re coming to me because you are clearly a musical genius.
CHRISTA: Oh, I really do need help, but also let me restore your love of music!
SIUB: *Attempts to harp her way out of Ground Hog Day Hell*
ORFIDE: Yeah, no
GUARDS: *Take SIUB away.*
WRITER: Now I will build my theme of the importance of change and the transformative power of the Goddess!
DEVI: Hi. Let me tell you about my crapsack childhood and my crapsack work place where I am continuously triggered by dudebros. Also, excuse me while I keep my dudebro coworkers from selling the weird guitar chick crap.
CHRISTA: I will attempt to join a band even though convincing a bunch of modern people that magic exists and they should help me rescue my girlfriend will be really hard.
ROCK BAND: *is an ego trip for the band leader.*
RON the BAND LEADER: Hur hur hur. Let’s see if the chick with a guitar can play.
MONICA the SINGER: *giving the stink eye to Christa because RON sleeps around.*
CHRISTA: *weirdly phrased comment about self-esteem that no one blinks at nearly as much as they should.*
RON: Hur hur hur. You should dress more sexy CHRISTA.
CHRISTA: I don’t see why I should since we’re practicing.
RON: Rock is all about T&A
CHRISTA: I’m going to need to start my own band.
*EDDI MCCANDRY: Yes, yes you will.
WRITER: I will now assemble all of the guns I have been leaving lying around! CHRISTA, LISA, MELINDA, DEVI and MONICA are now a band!
MELINDA: I will now make bad life choices since I am in CHRISTA’S band. Some of my bad life choices will involve kinky sex with abusive idiots.
MONICA: I will get stalked by RON, and be weirdly comforted by CHRISTA and her ghost. Which I eventually discover is her magic harp.
DEVI: CHRISTA will heal my child hood trauma.
LISA: I do not stand out very much because I haven’t made any Bad Life Choices, nor do I need any healing. I do however realize that there is Something About CHRISTA.
MANAGER/AGENT GUY: I will be deliberately obtuse concerning the extreme weirdness of CHRISTA and her band. Especially when things get really weird.
KEVIN: With my shiny and restored love of music, I will confront my family and discover that my little brother is gay and dying of AIDS. I also discover that I really can’t stand my family and was right to abandon them. Then CHRISTA adopts me and I acquire a shiny new Gaelic identity.
*Meanwhile in Ground Hog Day Hell.*
CUMAD: There’s a rose in the garden that has never bloomed! And that tree! It’s leaves have never changed color in the fall because it’s never been fall! EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS THE SAME!
LAMCRANN: *kind of freaked out.* Yeah, nothing ever changes here. That’s good!
CUMAD: NO IT ISN’T! SIUB IS RIGHT THIS IS HORRIBLE!!
SIUB: Don’t mind me, I’ll be over here attempting to plan escape with GLASLUIT over here.
GLASLUIT: I am in love with the idea of change, and also SIUB, even though she does not love me and is in a committed relationship with CHRISTA.
*Meanwhile, back at the ranch there is a CASCADE of HORRIFIC EVENTS THAT NEARLY DESTROYS THE BAND. MONICA is killed by RON and MELINDA is given a magical intervention that cures her drug addiction. Also, CEIS kills MELINDA’S Bad Life Choice.*
CHRISTA: Now I will reveal my secret identity!
THE BAND: *No one is surprised by this. Also, everyone is copacetic with helping Christa rescue her girlfriend*
ROCK: IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!
THE BAND: *Minus MONICA and plus KEVIN.* Are you ready to rock?
ORFIDE: Am I ready to what?
ROCK: WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT, NO, WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE!
THE BAND: Girls just want to
have fun kick your ass!**
ORFIDE: Okay, I’ma kick some mortal butt. *Attacks with emotional abuse!*
ORFIDE: *Tries to fake CHRISTA out with a Fake SIUB.*
FAKE SIUB: No, really, I’m happy here now. I don’t need to be rescued.
CHRISTA: A-Are you sure? *sad kitten in snow*
FAKE SIUB: Yes, really. Go back to the mortal world.
DEV: Um, Christa? You said nothing changes in the Realm. How the heck could SIUB change her mind!?
CHRISTA: …Good Point. *Rallies!*
THE BAND: *kicks Sidh butt.*
ROCK: ARE YOU A GETTIN’ IT? YES ARMAGEDDON IT!
THE REALM: *breaks*
THE SIDH: *are traumatized*
SIUB: *is rescued*
KEVIN: I feel really sorry for those Sidh douchebags. So I will play them the blues and magic them a Realm that is not a boring static hellhole.
THE SIDH: *dazed rockpocalypse survivors* Okay!
EVERYONE: *Lives happily ever after.*
*Eddi McCandry is the main character in Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks, another novel that involves a rock band and the Sidhe.
** I am so sorry.
No I’m not.