'You could have had me, but you threw me away.'
It all starts with a terrible crime. 24-year old Tol tries to suppress his sadistic urges almost all his life. Only when he meets 16-year old Aron does he lose control.
And then the beast roared, and broke through the bars. [… ]
"I felt cruel, powerful and ruthless. I was hurting him, and I wanted to hurt him more. I wanted his screams, I wanted his pain. I was no longer resisting it, I was participating, enjoying, feeding it. I felt my smile."
But Tol is found out and accepts his punishment, which is carried out by the victim's friends:
"I, Tolgrund Burnley, as an alternative to being handed to the police for prosecution in respect of my treatment of Aron Miheliewicz Chernik, hereby surrender my person to the custody of his friends as a ward of the way, and consent to any treatment of me they may choose, reserving only my life.
"Before you sign it, let me point out that it means just what it says. You consent to us doing anything at all to you. The only thing we can't do is kill you."
We then follow Tol in a downwards spiral of suffering, sexual violence and torture.
This was a gripping and well-written tale with a unique story line. At times, Tol’s acceptance of his punishments put me off. It helped that the topic of consent was a recurring theme of the book:
"It all comes down to consent. In our world, most things do."