Hannibal Lecter emerges from the nightmare of the Eastern Front, a boy in the snow, mute, with a chain around his neck.

He seems utterly alone, but he has brought his demons with him.

Hannibal’s uncle, a noted painter, finds him in a Soviet orphanage and brings him to France, where Hannibal will live with his uncle and his uncle’s beautiful and exotic wife, Lady Murasaki.

Lady Murasaki helps Hannibal to heal. With her help he flourishes, becoming the youngest person ever admitted to medical school in France.

But Hannibal’s demons visit him and torment him. When he is old enough, he visits them in turn.

He discovers he has gifts beyond the academic, and in that epiphany, Hannibal Lecter becomes death’s prodigy.

 “… It is not healing to see your childhood home, but it helps you measure whether you are broken, and how and why, assuming you want to know.”

My interest level fluctuated with the story. At times Harris seemed too impersonal and dry with his writing style, while other times it flowed well and I wondered why I questioned his style before. When in the head of Hannibal, the story is at its most intriguing, not just because the character is done so well (he is), but because it seems Harris finds firmer footing. There's not much head hopping, yet it still feels a bit disconnected, especially when the author tells too much, explaining in lines to the reader what should be shown instead.

With the nightmarish events, I can see how someone like Hannibal could die inside as a child to emerge as an intellectual shell later on. His connection with his stepmother is just bizarre, but fascinating and somehow fitting. Lots explained about how Hannibal earned his nickname later on, his experiences and development of skills and medical knowledge. Even with the trauma, surely he had in him somewhere already something that could emerge a monster. We all have capacity for evil, but I doubt we all have the capacity to have this level of apathy and emptiness.

Overall the author filled in the past of Hannibal that he'd sketched in later events. Silence of the Lambs stands as better because of the mystery and psychological warfare, and Hannibal followed those events by a manhunt and wow of an ending, but this slower unraveling fits into the collection well, even if it's not quite as exciting a read.

   Book Quotes:

“Every person is worth your time, Hannibal. If at first appearance a person seems dull, then look harder, look into him.” 

“Hannibal had entered his heart’s long winter. He slept soundly and was not visited in dreams as humans are.” 

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