This is a novel as strange as it is beautiful. A post-World War I Siberian village plays host to both a strange religious sect (castration is just one of their beliefs) and a regiment of Czech soldiers left stranded in the middle of revolutionary Russia once the war ended. And all of that is true. But things only turn combustible with the entry of Samarin, an escapee from Russia's northernmost prison camp who quickly catches the eye of a local widow and the ire of the Czech commander. Stir in an unsolved murder in the village, and pretty soon no one is sure who can trust whom. Weirdly believable and compelling, Meek's novel races to its bizarre and utterly satisfying conclusion in prose so apt that it never calls attention to itself.