‘Bread and Milk and Salt’ by Sarah Gailey [Short Story Review]

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I’ve studied enough Celtic stories at this point in my life to be one of the few people who knows that fairies, despite what Disney wants you to believe, are anything but pretty little creatures with wings and flower-crowns–though I suppose they can wear whatever they want. Of course, I also never expected to read a story about them fighting robots because, as we all know, robots are a science fiction thing and fairies are a fantasy thing and you can’t go around mixing up genres like that!

I’m, of course, joking, but what a treat to find a collection of stories that mixes together two iconic elements of genre fiction. And what I really like about this story in particular is that it takes itself seriously.

Plus, I had the opportunity of talking with Gailey once through a writer friend so I might be a little biased…

Beware the Deer

If you’re not familiar with some of the older tales of fairies than this story might surprise you in a couple ways.

One of my favourite things about the old stories was the shape-shifting. Many of the Celtic stories involve the people of Faerie–or –using their Otherworldly powers to transform themselves and others into animals. However, the animal that is chosen usually has some greater meaning to it–because why would a story involving magic ever do something completely random?

In this particular story, the faerie turns in the many animals as a way of hunting their pray and which one they choose is usually due to it having some trait that is useful at the time. (I also just really like the image of a dangerous duck that my imagination was nice enough to give me).

The animal that is really interesting though is the white deer. Yes, the deer is the dangerous one–kind of puts Bambi into a new light, huh?

Deer are one of those animals that show up in Celtic tales all the time because they can run really fast and navigate through the woods really well. As a result, they are commonly hunted for sport. From my experience, the Celts thought you couldn’t be a warrior until you killed a deer.

But if you wanted to be a hero you needed to kill a magic deer.

Remember that little “white” adjective I was very careful to include three paragraphs ago? Well, white is the colour of magic for the Celts. Also, sometimes red but it depends on how they’re feeling.

So, there we are, a good chunk into the story and our faerie decides to turn themselves into a white (if spotted) deer at the moment the story starts to shift. Not only is this the first time the faerie tastes Peter’s blood this binding them together, but it is also the moment when the pray starts to become the hunter.

So our not-so-heroic main character fails to defeat the white deer. Is it really any wonder he would turn out to be awful?


Rating: 4 out of 5.

I honestly have too many thoughts about this story to be able to write it all down here. There are so many layers to the relationship between Peter and the faerie and whether there is a “good guy” and a “bad guy” in this story, etc…

I just focused on one thing for this because you should just go read it. Go on, I don’t mind.


  1. I learned a lot from this post. I’m not much of a fantasy reader, but I love the Disney fairy tales like everyone else so I’ve only ever known the toned down versions of these stories.


  2. As it is with most people. It’s weird to talk about how I like faeries and then get weird looks because what I’m thinking is VERY different from what they’re thinking 😅


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