Cuckoo's Egg

by C. J. Cherryh
Reviewed date: 2005 May 28
Rating: 2
186 pages
cover art

Thorn is a young human boy raised by Duun, his humanoid fur-covered alien father. Duun raises Thorn alone in the mountains for nearly 16 years until they move to the city. It is there that Thorn realizes that he is unique in the world. All other people are like Duun: fur-covered, with claws. Thorn is the only clawless, bare-skinned creature in existence.

Thorn is not told of his origin or purpose, and neither is the reader. I suppose this is to let us see the story from his perspective. Mostly I find it annoying. The whole world seems to worship Thorn, yet half seem also afraid of him. A significant number want to kill him.

The author strings the reader along for the whole rotten book with the promise of a big payoff at the end. She does deliver: we do learn Thorn's origin and his purpose, and why he is worshiped and hated. But the secret isn't shocking enough to make up for the rest of the rotten book. Make no mistake: the only reason the rest of the book is even remotely interesting is because of the ever-present reminders of the Big Secret (TM) the author is withholding. A withheld secret is not enough to sustain an entire novel. I give Cuckoo's Egg a low rating of 2, and that's being generous.

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