What an absolutely stonking story. It carried me along, gulping for more, with its utterly entrancing Justine, an automaton built to sing opera like no human could ever sing, against a panoply of background characters — the Maestro, the Ballet Mistress, the dancers, and, most importantly of all, Lise, who gives Justine the final secret she needs. It’s the sort of story that telegraphs one ending from the start, but leaves the reader desperately hoping that that is not the actual ending. Really, really enjoyed this one.
How long do you wait for reunion when you and your beloved are out of sync on the paths of reincarnation? Arthi remains near the village waiting for the love who left her to return: as a peony, a butterfly, a cat. She is feared–or appreciated–as a witch as she waits for the cycles to turn. But when what you longed for finally arrives after so much waiting, is it worth it? This is a slow-moving, meandering story, rich in description and detail with more of a slice-of-life structure than a conflict-driven plot. The action is internal and in the end there is more acceptance than resolution.
I’m not sure how I feel about this story. It didn’t grab me by the throat but it isn’t that kind of tale. I kept trying to work out if the setting were inspired by some particular real-world culture or was entirely imaginative. It felt like the latter, so I didn’t worry quite so much about the logistics of how the reincarnation was supposed to work (except for wondering why it only seemed to be relevant for the central characters). Pleasant, but not likely to stick with me as deeply memorable.