SPUNK, A Fable, is quite a brave choice for a title, and this bravery reflects in the tale tackled. As a lesbian I've read at least two of the sort of 'modern Amazonian tribe' fantasies prevalent in LGBT genre (in the early 90's) which SPUNK is an intelligent and astute spin on. Such all-female societies were ideal if not always utopian, purposed to elevate and overtly empower its female characters (and maybe make other statements). With SPUNK, Helen O'Reilly intends none of these things but explores a very believable path that a post-apocalyptic, all-female 'tribe' can take, and it's all shades of Lord of the Flies, and then some.
But unlike the blunt, young boy/testosterone-fueled savagery of Flies, O'Reilly softens the more unsettling aspects of this female tribe, united in a corrupted vision of survival, with a fable's euphemistic language; just as we can easily digest the monstrosity of Baba Yaga through the simplicity of fairy tale, we can absorb the more queasy or frank aspects of SPUNK with O'Reilly's poetic narrative, though the estrogen-fueled savagery of her setting is still effectively intact. The fable comes to a very satisfying conclusion, as most good tales should, with a beautiful mix of both female and male characters (very much unlike the typical 'amazonian utopia' formula),who pull surprises at the end.