I don’t know why this book didn’t work that well for me; it’s very much what you’d expect from McKillip, magical and otherworldly and dreamy, written in her usual meandering, allusive, dense style. I just… didn’t really get into it that much, or follow the chains of events. I often have that problem with McKillip’s work, to be fair, so this is probably a very individual criticism; people who enjoy her style effortlessly will probably enjoy this just as much as any of her other books.
For me, though… the story is compelling, and the style is pretty amazing — the way she depicts Saro’s thoughts, despite the fact that Saro doesn’t know how to speak, how to articulate in language, sticking close to what Saro is actually thinking/experiencing, for example. But other than that, I didn’t really get invested with the story, the characters; I felt oddly fatalistic about it. My attitude was pretty much ‘what will happen will happen’, rather than worrying about what might happen or trying to guess it, or even having any strong feeling about what would be a good or bad turn for the story.
The problem is probably exacerbated by the fact that I’m writing this review quite a while after reading. But it definitely wasn’t one of my favourite McKillip books; it was just too surreal, dreamy, disconnected, despite the quality of the writing.