It is hard to imagine how more horror, brutality and general depression could be packed into such a short novel as this Italian one. Starting with the rape by two men of the 16-year old daughter of the destitute Vi family and ending with the castration by the women of the Southern Italy village of one of the would be rapers, it provides a sandwich filling of grinding poverty, sexual perversion, murder, betrayal, adultery, and most of the pettier sins as well. The Victri family, the center of a large cast of characters, is a most pathetic one and their plight is brought home to the reader most clearly in small scenes and touches rather than in the full sweep of horror that finally engulfs them. The same is true of all of the people introduced. Nothing good will ever happen to any of them, that is sure from the start, but the author still manages to raise hopes and sympathy (before crushing them) by showing his people as human with human virtues as well as vices. Still, by beeping violence upon violence, he leaves the reader more numbed than genuinely moved. Very well written, but only for the strongest stomachs.