Vanja, an information assistant, is sent from her home city of Essre to the austere, wintry colony of Amatka with an assignment to collect intelligence for the government. Immediately she feels that something strange is going on: people act oddly in Amatka, and citizens are monitored for signs of subversion.

In Karin Tidbeck’s world, everyone is suspect, no one is safe, and nothing—not even language, nor the very fabric of reality—can be taken for granted.