Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Carrasco's debut novel offers a vague, terrifying, and violent tale told in sparse, taut prose reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy. An unnamed boy is on the run from his harsh father and a sadistic bailiff. He flees into a vast, drought-riddled expanse in his unnamed country with a vague plan to simply get as far from home as possible. After he bumps into an old man with a small herd of goats and an overly friendly dog, the two become travelling companions, heading north to the mountains, where water is supposedly more prevalent. They endure sunstroke, dehydration, and the shocking cruelty of local authorities while slowly growing fond of each other despite their stoic reservations. Details are hazy, and although there are hints of a collapsed civilization barely hanging on after catastrophic climate change, the lack of specificity leaves little to focus on but brutality and survival. The boy's traumatic history appears as rapid, disconnected flashes, blunting the emotional impact. The violence will make some readers balk, but passages of lovely writing coupled with the jaw-clenching tension and moments of hope make this a welcome introduction a new voice. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A stark debut novel details a young boy's flight from danger across a desiccated, dangerous land.Carrasco's unnamed protagonist begins his journey cowering in an olive grove while men shout his name. "He had caused an incident" at home, necessitating his escape. He is left entirely alone, and "the black flower of his family's betrayal still gnawed at his stomach." Details of this incident are mysterious to the reader, but the boy sets out in haste across a severe and drought-stricken plain. He doesn't bring adequate provisions for the arduous trip, and soon hunger overtakes him. A world-weary goatherd he encounters offers food and protection, eventually becoming the boy's mentor. Spare in dialogue but lush in cinematic description, Carrasco's novel (as translated by Costa) draws on old archetypes of journey and mentorship, depicting beauty in the gaunt, nameless landscape as well as the relationship between the man and the boy. "There was a time when the plain had been an ocean of wheat fields...fragrant green waves waiting for the summer sun," Carrasco writes. "The same sun that now fermented the clay and ground it down to dust." The boy and goatherd fight to stay just ahead of danger, but they do so beneath "starslike jewels encrusted in a transparent sphere." There is an urgency to the boy's escape; at night he "dreams he's being pursued. The usual dream. He's running away from someone he never sees, but whose hot breath he can feel on his neck." The goatherd teaches the boy his ascetic ways, and the boy searches for the confidence to outsmart the men who rabidly chase him. In this tale about becoming a man, it is clear that confronting one's own demons is as important as outwitting the danger that lurks in the dark. Harshly and elegantly told; a quest that feels both old and new. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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