What Child Is This? by Victor J. Banis

What Child Is This? by Victor J. Banis
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (6 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

What had happened to her own daughter? Where had this child come from, the mother wondered. Who was she? Why did she sit for hours staring at her baby brother, contemplating…who knew what?

It was enough to drive you mad…especially, if you had a history of madness. But the doctors had assured her that was all behind her, a thing of the past…

Wasn’t it?

Every parent worries about their children, but some concerns are much scarier than others.

The narrator of this piece has spent years anxiously attempting to predict the future. Her racing thoughts keep reverting to the same horrifying conclusion, but she’s having a difficult time getting anyone to listen to her. Occasionally doctors and well-meaning family members treat certain adult patients as if they are children, and the narrator’s reaction to this new dynamic in her closest relationships was quite similar to how I’ve seen other people in the same situation react in real life. Her reaction to the paternalistic treatment of her emotional state fleshes out this character’s personality and made it easier for me to like her when she makes certain choices.

While I completely understand that short stories generally don’t include a great deal of background information, I would have had an easier time understanding the ending if the narrator’s troubled past had been explained in greater detail. Everything was wrapped up so quickly and with only one or two hints about the truth that it took me a few rereads to realize what was actually happening to the narrator and her children.

Even with my confusion about the ending I was eager to figure out the narrator’s jumbled point of view. Mr. Banis creates an extraordinarily creepy atmosphere in what should have been ordinary scenes from the daily life of a young family. Sometimes the most frightening things in the world are also the most familiar ones.

What Child Is This? sent a shudder down my spine. This is a good choices for readers who prefer horror that is suspenseful instead of gory.


  1. Thank you for taking the time to read and to write a perceptive review of my short story, What Child is This? Yes, you are right, sometimes the most frightening things are the most familiar ones – a truism Shirley Jackson often used to advantage in her horror stories.

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