Centuries ago five families left Scotland to settle in Dourvale, a village somewhere in Ontario. Running away from accusations of witchcraft and demon worship, The Five- Family Coven was also connected to the faerie dimension through a series of alliances and betrayals that would haunt them over the years.
We Will All Go Down Together didn’t need to do too much to win me over. The book is a cycle of short stories (written over a period of several years), the sum of which coalesces into the larger story of the five families (Devize, Druir, Glouwer, Roke and Rusk), as their members diverge, intermarry, fuck, scheme and fight through space and time. The cast of psychics, shamans, witches, fairies, warrior nuns and bohemian occultists that appears in and out of these stories is a delight, but the real reason that the book works is that it is more horror than fantasy. This kind of material could easily slip into a Charles de Lint or Neil Gaiman type of urban fantasy (I love both these authors but my tolerance for their descendants is pretty limited). Instead, Files embraces the horrific aspects of the subject, with truly impressive results. The faerie folk in these stories are alien, infinitely cruel entities and their home world a place of nightmare that will haunt you.
Files makes a point of explaining in the afterword that she wanted to dispel the usual clichés about Canada being nice and safe and uninteresting. She needn’t have worried. For a reader who is unfamiliar with the setting (I’ve never been to Canada), her Ontario seems dangerous and fun. Add to this a folk music influence running under the themes of the book and you have yourself a killer package. Highly recommended.
PS: There is a guide to the descendants of the families at the back of the book. Use it. It will help you navigate through the intermingled bloodlines of the people (and creatures) within the pages. Without it, you’ll be as lost as a changeling in downtown Toronto.