It was important that she learn the truth of this story. For though it happened long ago, in a deep and vital way it was still happening now and would go on happening forever. And if she did not learn it and grasp hold of it tightly with both hands, it would go on without her ... still vital, still true. But she herself would be less true.
Here at the dawning of her awareness, that tender threshold between childhood and adulthood when all is new and all is old simultaneously. That thin slice of time when mortality understands immortality without effort, without unconscious trust.
When I finished the first chapter, I had it in my head that I wasn’t going to like this book. Basically, two brothers are building a huge hall at the top of a hill, and the tiny village at the bottom has been asked to make a water offering to these brothers once a day. We start with a little girl going up the hill to make the offering. Eventually, she somewhat befriends one of the brothers and he ends up telling her a story. So we switch between the little girl’s PoV and that of the characters in the story the brother is telling. I thought I wouldn’t be submersed in the “story” part of the book, but Stengl did a great job keeping me entrenched in both PoVs.
The story part of the world is made up of two villages on opposite sides of the river, so as far as world building goes, it isn’t terribly complicated. Matter of fact, it has a very tribal feel to it. No commerce, no kings or kingdoms, no lands to explore. It’s compact. That said, we are mainly with only one of the tribes, so whatever was going on in the other wasn’t explored. Someone looking for intricate or detailed worlds will probably not enjoy this as much as I did.
The writing was clean, smooth, and easy to read. Furthermore, it’s a super short book and a great way to pass a few hours.
I’m a bit surprised that I picked up a book that’s a spinoff of a series. I didn’t realize that when I bought it. I just saw it on my to-read list and needed something short. However, I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. Like I said, I was surprised to find that out. So I don’t think you need to read the series to enjoy this.
The little girl was developed nicely and ended up being very believable. It was a different reading experience than what I’m used to. Seeing the scary world through the eyes of a child was refreshing. The characters in the story were as nicely delivered. Draven and what he had to go through was heartbreaking. His character pulled me right into that story part and got me invested in him right off the bat. Ita was also engaging; a strong girl that I admired. I felt those two characters were incredibly well drawn.
My complaint? When we discover who Ita loves, I found it a bit unbelievable based on time and what we knew. I saw it coming, but I kept telling myself that it couldn’t be. Shortly developed love always kinda bothers me a bit. Relationships and love take a bit more time to bloom than what was conveyed.
My other complaint would be how I felt distant from the world. I wish there would have been a hair more world development. That gap made the whole book just hover outside of something I could love.
Overall, if you want a quick read to occupy a few hours, I’d recommend this book. It moved fast and kept my interest the entire time.