In the ancient tale of unrequited love between Daphne and Apollo, the nymph Daphne turns into a laurel tree to keep her Cupid-struck lover, Apollo, at bay. In Daphne, Will Boast’s suggestive twist on the Greek myth, Apollo is played by Ollie, a patient, affable and justice-seeking hottie for whom Daphne can’t help but fall. But is he worth the risk of letting go and allowing herself to love? Is preserving her health worth the work of keeping her distance?
Daphne suffers seizures when she is overwhelmed by emotion, and she staves off these attacks by holding images in her mind: “Cattails, willows, white smoke; cattails, willows, river sparkling in the noon light.” These images, rendered in italics throughout Daphne, are breaths of fresh air amid her frenzied, barely contained slough of feelings that she must nagivate from day to day. “The buzzing, between a headache and a shiver, started at the top of my skull. I found myself staring around the room again. Longing, envy, remorse, hair-trigger rage—for once could I just give in?” From living in San Francisco during the Occupy movement to dating Ollie and working in a lab that tests medical devices on dogs, Daphne has lots of opportunities to give in, which might mean falling, having a seizure—or worse, paralysis.
As Daphne decides how safely she wants to lead her life, she becomes a mythic heroine-guide who comes alive for readers in a modern setting. We all share her condition to a degree. How often do we retreat behind our headphones and devices to cut out the world—and what are we missing? How are we rewiring ourselves?
Not only is it a sensationally captivating narrative, Daphne makes us look at our habits and calibrate.