A major departure from the world of Kvothe, this novella is a very different sort of story, following the young, broken Auri, who lives in the Underthing beneath the University. This isn’t just a different story, it’s sort of wrong too. There’s no action, no dialogue, nothing ever really happens. Instead, we catch a glimpse of how Auri spends a week of her life, as she waits for a visit from Kvothe. It’s more of an extended vignette, because at the end of it, Auri is more of a mystery for me than she was before. There is no back story, just an impression of a tangled person, who sees her own sort of hidden magic in the small lost objects of the world.
I might liken Auri to Tolkien’s Gollum. There is the small moment in Twin Towers when Gollum is happily fishing in a pond before his capture by Faramir, when he is free from fear and doubt, and although his soul is broken, and although he is a twisted version of what he once was, he has a moment of peace, and it’s beautiful. We know nothing of the girl before Auri, not even her name, but there’s a sense that this crazy autistic woman has found some sort of balance in a world that ruined her.
You might not like this story. But I did. Recommended for those who don’t mind lack of a plot, poets, and of course, fans of Auri. You won’t actually learn anything else about her, but you’ll get a chance to see the world through her eyes.
“She felt the panic rising in her then. She knew. She knew how quickly things could break. You did the things you could. You tended to the world for the world’s sake. You hoped you would be safe. But still she knew. It could come crashing down and there was nothing you could do. And yes, she knew she wasn’t right. She knew her everything was canted wrong. She knew her head was all unkilter. She knew she wasn’t true inside. She knew.”