Physician, Heal Thyself

Book Review: Leech by Hiron Ennes

Leech is an exceptionally satisfying read.

Hiron Ennes has created a strange and blasted land, a hostile environment still disrupted by the decay of a long ago devastated civilization that may or may not be Earth’s. The surviving remnant of something-like-people live in far-flung settlements under tyrannical rule by aristocrats, a dystopian society within which we can glimpse a possible future of our own world.

Although they don’t quite know it, all live in thrall to the apparently beneficent but totalitarian rule of the Institute.

Reading Leech required my full attention because, for no-spoilers’ sake, it just does. Hiron Ennes offers a wealth of description that makes the world of Leech easy to visualize, but full understanding of the story’s perplexing circumstances requires patience and an eye for nuance. The reader must follow meager clues meted out a morsel at a time.

I prefer to learn particulars as they’re revealed by the plot instead of through prosy narrative that slams the brakes on suspense-building. Ennes’s use of that tactic not only made revelations more powerful but made me care more deeply for the survival of the central characters.

Leech provides terrifying scenes that drove my mind too fast to see where the scene was leading and made the sedentary act of reading a cathartic rush. I may have been confused at times, but I was irresistibly lured by the secrets only hinted at and the outcome exceeded my expectations.

I loved this book. Though not similar to them in most ways, I expect that its themes will stick in my mind just as other deeply affecting novels like Ursula K LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Walter M Miller’s A Canticle For Leibowitz have done.

I thank the author, publisher Macmillan-Tor/Forge, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a free advance reader’s copy of Leech. They’ve placed no obligation to do so on me, but I offer my endorsement with enthusiasm. Leech is a phenomenal read and Hiron Ennes is an extraordinary writer.


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