We’ve reached the end of the week, dear readers! I hope you all have fun/relaxing weekend plans ahead of you. I’ve got a family birthday party to attend tomorrow, but will otherwise be catching up on my current reads. As promised earlier in the week, today I’ve got my book review for Lapvona, which was a wildly intense read.
QUICK PLOT: The titular setting of this story is a small medieval village which is lorded over by the cruel and emotionally underdeveloped Villiam. Under his thumb, the people of Lapvona undergo devastating natural disasters and endless strife with next to no support or relief.
Our main character is Marek, the deformed child of the violently cruel widowed village shepherd, Jude. Enduring continuous abuse for his entire life, the 13-year-old finds his life transformed when Jude gives him to Lord Villiam as reparations for a crime Marek has committed. In Lord Villiam’s care, Marek is thrusted into a political power struggle with heavy religious overtones that will shake Marek and the people of Lapvona to their core.
THE GOOD: I’m still thinking about this book several days after finishing it. I’m definitely type of reader who tends to forget book plots and characters soon after finishing the book unless there is something that boldly stands out to me. With Lapvona, there are many things screaming in my mind.
I absolutely love the themes of sadomasochism, religion, and class warfare. I strongly believe that there is a connection between these three things that is clear to me even in 2022 society, let alone in medieval Europe. I’ve often found there to be a connection between worship (of any deity or human or social class) and self-flagellation. Some of the major tenants of most types of worship are idolization, diminishment of self, and a willingness to suffer.
All of these things are fully represented in Lapvona. The villagers are stuck infighting over who is really the most devoted while their lord hardly acknowledges their existence, preferring to live in the lap of luxury. Watching Marek experience the deprave alienation of Lapvona and then the way Lord Villiam has been living in his manor is nothing if not jarring. I feel like Ottessa Moshfegh managed to capture so many things that historically relevant to society that still linger today.
THE NOT SO GOOD: This book is BLEAK. Incredibly dark. Possibly one of the more disturbing books I’ve ever read. I happen to enjoy very gritty books that capture the depravity of humanity, so depending on your personal taste this may or may not be a negative for you.
I would highly recommend that you read the content warnings before diving into this book though. My list of content warnings that I ran into while reading: sexual violence and assault, child abuse, incest, abortion, murder, cannibalism, animal abuse, self harm, and torture. It’s an intense list and an intense read, so venture into it at your own risk.
FINAL THOUGHTS & RATING: I rated this one a 4 out of 5 stars. Per my rating scale, 4 star books are those that are above average for their given genre. The book is not perfect (5 stars) because I do think the fourth act went a little off the rails in terms of pacing and plot compared to the first three acts. Overall, a really interesting book that I’ll be thinking about for some time to come!
Have you read Lapvona? If so, what were your thoughts? If not, is it something you would be interested in reading?
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