While this is listed as fantasy or horror or magical realism, it read to me as a kind of fable about ignorance about technology in a kind of lost future. There’s the famous Arthur C Clarke idea about technology “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” And I think that’s at play here. In a village, which feels like a kind of post-apocalyptic (and the kind of fall is not spelled out here) we have healers working with patients to cure them of illnesses. The novel is told through a series of narrators, and is narrated as from behind a fog that never really lifts, and so we’re left to figure out a lot on our own, whatever there is to figure out.
So I choose to read this book as a kind science fiction book similar to Walter Tevis’s Mockingbird or Leigh Brackett’s The Long Tomorrow, both of which involve a future in which most humans have lost the knowledge of human technology to the point where that technology takes on these kinds of emotionally oppressive qualities. In Brackett’s novel, it’s treated as a kind of heresy, and in Tevis’s as something not worth paying attention to. Here it’s more Brackett’s.
The issues then here is that the book dwells in this fog for long past the time to move on with it. So I feel like this novel is in a kind of caught-between state of being too long for a short story/novella, and not long enough for a novel, and this uncomfortable middle wears thin before too long. The cover is great though.