Tor.com. Sept. 2022. 336p. ISBN 9781250811189. $27.99. SF
DEBUT Ennes’s novel is an amalgam of multiple genres that mutates into something truly unique. In an isolated mining town, a baron’s doctor has died mysteriously, and the Institute sends a replacement (who narrates this story) to find out what happened. The Institute is more than just a guild of doctors; all of its members are a hivemind, all parts of an organism dedicated to keeping watch over humanity. This doctor, and subsequently the Institute, discovers a new kind of parasite spreading throughout the baron’s chateau, which could usurp the Institute’s rung on the evolutionary ladder. Ennes blends several different genres here, including science fiction, postapocalyptic fiction, gothic horror, and body horror, turning them into a delightfully original work that explores multiple themes including identity and autonomy. Readers must really pay attention to the story, since the narrator is used to being one of many bodies, but for their efforts they also get to watch the narrator evolve away from the Institute’s influence.
VERDICT The fascinating world and original narrator that Ennes creates in their debut produce a sublime gothic sci-fi tale that grows into a story greater than the sum of its parts.
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