But like a rat or an icy wind, love creeps in.
Well, I’m starting off my first Cannonball Read a little behind, but this was a great book to start with. Very surreal and oddly moving, Little Nothing will stick with me for a long time. While a lot of fantasy fiction gets caught up in sentiment (Not a slam. I read a lot of fantasy.), Little Nothing goes for something a little more raw and realistic. Set in a vaguely 19th century unnamed Eastern European country, Little Nothing tells the story of Pavla, a dwarf born to parents who dabbled in gypsy magic as a last ditch effort to conceive. Seeing her condition as a curse for their sinfulness, her parents struggle to accept her, despite her sweet ways and lovely demeanor. After a horrific transformation, Pavla sets off on the road of self-discovery with a young man named Danilo, who both feels obligated to protect her and is consumed for his singleminded love for her. While they are torn apart by circumstance and face difficult circumstances, you will find yourself rooting for them both on every page.
I loved Marisa Silver’s writing style, but it might not be for everyone. Part of the appeal of fantasy is often the world building, and Silver keeps things vague and strange. However, her focus is inward, with both major characters having rich internal lives. Pavla’s story especially, as she transforms from one thing to another in a quest for societal acceptance will ring a little too true and break your heart all at once. I would have loved a bit more interaction between Pavla and Danilo, but this is not that kind of love story. Instead, readers are left wondering what happens when a love between two people becomes impossible, be it by circumstance or the walls that unfathomable pain can build between two people.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending, but I can’t argue that it didn’t fit. You’ll probably be left with more questions than answers at the end of this book, but it is just weird enough to work. If you’ve ever felt like an outcast or that the world has chewed you up, spit you out, and turned you into something that you barely recognize anymore, Little Nothing is the surrealist folk tale for you.