A first English translation of a terrific short novel written in 1952 by one of Spain's foremost modern writers of fiction. Set in a remote Castilian village, it expertly weaves images of conflict, death, and decay through its taut story of landowner Juan Medinao's lonely, frustrated childhood and love-hate relationship with his illegitimate half-brother Pablo, whose elemental, sensual nature simultaneously attracts and enrages the suggestible Juan. Matute brilliantly frames Juan's story within a dramatic account of a peasant boy's accidental death and its consequences, and in so doing creates a vivid microcosm of inequities and imbalances that underlie the approaching Spanish Civil War. In its very brief compass, this enthralling novella speaks volumes about fraternal and economic tensions, the code of machismo, and the serpentine complexities of sexual awareness and longing. It is a beautiful piece of work.