I enjoy the work of Gary Fry, and while this is not one his best (those honors in my opinion go to Lurker and Menace), Savage casts an eerie spell. The developing story is unusual, and I was driven by a constant sense of “what the heck is going on here”. Just when I thought I had a sense of the plot, the author pulled the rug out from under me.
This is not a dialog-rich novella. The third person point of view is from Daryl, and he thinks and makes observations like a smug university faculty. There are themes of social conformity, rigidity, human flexibility, and openness to new experiences. You don’t have to access these underlying messages to enjoy the plot, although I found them clever additions. I noticed some reviewers did not like the “heady” narrative, but to me this made perfect sense given the character. Similarly, the narrative is ambiguous relative to the explanation of events. Fry leaves you suspended in a world of uncertainty. Again, fine with me because the story stayed with me as I wrestled with the outcome.