Dreamscape Media Aug. 2023. 17:47 hrs. ISBN 9781666645484. $17.99. F
Hynes’s (Kings of Infinite Space) latest takes listeners into a Roman village in Spain as the pagan gods and old ways give over to a new Christian order. The story follows an enslaved orphaned boy who grows up in a brothel, first in the kitchen, then in the tavern, and finally upstairs with the “wolves,” his surrogate mothers and sisters who have been enslaved alongside him. He is known by many names (Pusus, or “Little One”; Mouse; Jacob), but the name that resonates most with him is Sparrow, for as a metaphorical bird he can hover above the ugliness and protect his psyche from the horrors visited upon him. Narrator Theo Solomon’s smooth British accent adorns this story, adding a note of beauty that matches the grace of Hynes’s prose. He empathetically describes how Euterpe, a fellow wolf whom Sparrow considers his foster mother, tells stories to help the boy understand the world around him. These respites from their circumstances are enchantingly conveyed, with the characters’ range of emotions on full display.
VERDICT A story of pain, survival, and community set in a lyrically described, intricately built world. For readers of Jesmyn Ward’s Let Us Descend.
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