Somehow Greece–in this case, the Greek civil war shortly after WWII–seems the most appropriate setting for a tale of haruspicy (the divining of omens by the study of entrails). Nafsika has a talent for divining futures and presents in the bones and organs of the dead–a talent that her commanding officer begrudgingly values except when the fate that Nafsika sees contradicts her strategy and plans. The war provides the peril and hazards that make hard choices necessary, but as the author’s notes indicate, this is in some ways a symbolic exploration of the real-history hardships and consequences of the setting. Intertwined in the exploration of Nafsika’s talents is the dangerous love she shares with her female comrade and Nafsika’s desperate attempt to use her talents to find a path to survival for her squad.
For all the gruesome opening and looming disaster, I was riveted from beginning to end. This is a powerful story with an intense sense of place and time. The horrors are both supernatural and historical, and the framing story of the protagonist writing the events as a diary (based on actual historic examples) leaves the audience in suspense as to the outcome. I can’t say that I’d be eager to experience it again, but I’m glad to have listened the once.
Content warning for body horror and wartime violence.