Guy, driving through the forest to deliver caged animals, stops by the side of a road deep in the forest. There, against his better judgment, he picks up a passenger who has the look of the folkoric Piper he’s been warned about. As he feared, the trip gets complicated.
There’s no question this story is Russian. Translated by one of the authors, it has the sound and the feel of recent Russian SFF, which gives it a wordy, slightly exotic feel in English. It’s a bit strange that a Russian story revolves around a Pied Piper figure, but it works nonetheless. It’s well written, moves smoothly, and deals nicely with some weighty moral dilemmas – avoiding both superficiality and heavy-handedness.
The main flaw of the story is simply in its length. It would have been more effective as a shorter story, and not lost anything by it. Still, it’s a pleasant sampler of what the Dyachenkos can produce, and worth picking up (free, by the way).