• The Good: A young man must flee his home after raising a hand against an ogre
  • The Bad: Emotionally distant characters
  • The Literary: Second person POV; slowly unraveling mysteries; fantasy that turns into scifi

Torquell has always been a bit brash and impulsive as the son of the headman of his idyllic village, but he’s always gotten away with plenty. The landlord and his son come to visit, and they’re ogres, bigger and stronger than Torquell and the people in his village. Ogres have always ruled; it’s the natural order of the world. But the landlord’s son has it out for Torquell, and when Torquell hits an ogre, his father tells him he must flee.

What seems a simple hero’s journey against the oppressors is far more intricate and surprising, which is why I love this novella. Explore the haves and the have-nots through a medieval fantasy setting with a rogue who upsets the ogres at the top of the food chain, which is satisfying in itself. Plus it’s told in second person, which is fun. Then the twist about half-way through moves the story into science fiction territory, and I won’t say any more, but Tchaikovsky is a master at the melding of these two genres.

The world is familiar, but with just enough incongruities to pull you into the mystery. Why can’t humans digest meat? Why do ogres drive cars in a feudal society? And how does someone pack such a big story into such a short format? Enjoy the themes of politics and economics, class and slavery, greed and power, science and religion and restrictive systems.

Recommended for fans of scifi fantasy mashups and twisty surprises!