A Strange Country
by Muriel Barbery
The novel could be read as an allegory for the challenges that face our modern world, from the controversy surrounding our borders to climate change. Or, it may be seen as a strange and poetic fantasy similar to the work of Tolkien. In either case, it is a beautiful book about what it means to be brave and how we all must work to save ourselves and each other. San Francisco Book Review
‘Bewitching’ … ‘[an] enchanting hero’s journey’ Foreword Reviews
‘At its best, Barbery’s imaginative tale reads as a mix of J.R.R. Tolkien and Hayao Miyazaki, epic in scope yet grounded by humor.’ Publishers’ Weekly
‘Readers who love meditative, dreamlike fiction will enjoy this translation, which rings with the music of the original French.’ Booklist
Alejandro de Yepes and Jesus Rocamora, young officers in the Spanish regular army, are stationed alone at Castillo when a friendly redhead named Petrus appears out of nowhere. There is something magnetic and deeply mysterious about him. Alejandro and Jesus are bewitched, and, in the middle of the sixth year of the longest war humankind has ever endured, they abandon their post to follow him across a bridge that only he can see.
Petrus brings them to a world of lingering fog, strange beings, poetry, music, natural wonders, harmony and extraordinary beauty. This is where the fate of the world and all its living creatures is decided. Yet this world too is under threat. A long battle against the forces of disenchantment is drawing to a climactic close. Will poetry and beauty prevail over darkness and death? And what role will Alejandro and Jesus play?
Muriel Barbery’s richly imagined new novel, the sequel to The Life of Elves, will transport readers to a lost world exposed to the constant churn of civilisations and remind them of the power of poetry and imagination.