"The man let out a stream of words hot as coals as he struggled to his feet and glared down at her, eyes blazing. His face was a dark shade of purple-tinged red. He lunged toward her with clenched fists. Veins bulged at his neck."
Mariutza Glapion has been living in a swamp for as long as she can remember. One night she sneaks out to the road, a forbidden place and on her way home, senses something is wrong. She senses the Badness, hears a gunshot in the dark, finds her home empty, her grandfather missing. She finds him dying in a pool of blood and he makes a strange request. Forced to flee her home she encounters Jazz, a musician with strange powers of his own. Together they must solve the mystery her grandfather left for them to solve, all the while avoiding the Badness and the authorities.
I received this book as an Early Reviewer from LibraryThing and found the mythology of the world intriguing as Mari belongs to a small group of people called 'The Standing'. She has special skills and powers, is wary of cities and as a result, doesn't know how to survive inside one. Her dialogue has an earthy feel to it and her diction reveals her ignorance of technology and mordern society.
She's also very tactile when it comes to describing her world. Olson has some beautiful descriptinos that paint concrete images of the setting. "Smooth moonlight, soft and timid as a sleeping babe's breath, seeped through the forest canopy, painting Old Man Oak's mossy beard with twisting ribbons of silver and shadow."
Various terms and concepts associated with the mythology of Olson's world are introduced throughout the book but by the end I still wasn't sure what some of them meant. I only saw the 'Badness' as an amorphous blob and wasn't sure exactly how Mari's 'dikh' sight functioned. As well there were various references to the Bible which seemed contrary to a book I would classify as fantasy. Then I realized this book is classified under Christian Fiction and the core of the book relates to a story in the bible.
I found it difficult to orient myself at the start of the book. The combination of Mariutza's diction and the mythology of her world launch the reader straight into the unknown. It would have been easier to adjust had the POV not jumped into another character in chapter two. This jumping around occurs for the rest of the novel and included a POV for a character called Daniel Groves that seemed unneccessary. I didn't fully engage in the story until halfway through the book because at that point, the plot felt solid.
Also it was difficult to tell how old everyone was. At the beginning of the book I thought Mariutza was quite young but the farther the read the older she seemed to become. She acted like a child though that may only have been to show how apart from the world she really was. Then when she was with Jazz she seemed to age seven or eight years and appeared closer in age to him.