This was a perfect little fable-like tale. The language was wonderful: “It moaned like a lonely demon, like a mad despairing animal, like a huge and anguished something chained forever in its own great tragic disappointments.” Wow.
The story itself is quite thought-provoking. I thought it was spot on in its depiction of people who sorta-kinda know deep down that there isn’t really a monster, but want to believe there is because it makes life more interesting. I know a lot of people don’t like the book because they see it as a mockery of religion, but I disagree. Religious people sincerely believe in God, versus the people in this book seemed to me to be having fun with the belief. It provides “a gleeful terror” and the villagers are clearly enjoying themselves. The scene where everyone denies what Egan has to tell them read to me less as blind faith refusing to face the facts and more as purposeful self-delusion/willful ignoring of something that will spoil the fun. When I was a child my sister and I convinced ourselves a witch lived in an abandoned building down the street. We knew that it didn’t really live there, but that didn’t stop us from being truly frightened.
It’s funny, because as a child I would have identified with Egan and been extremely frustrated with not having anyone take my story seriously. But as an adult, I was sympathized with Uncle Anson. I found myself hoping that Egan would change his mind about announcing his “find” and upset when he did. Everyone was so obviously enjoying themselves it seemed a shame to disabuse them of their fun.