This is a story about expectations and preconceptions. If you believe you are nothing, that the system around you is wrong and your fellow inmates no better than you then what hope do you have?Ever since he arrived in Mercy Prison, Merrick has dreamed and schemed about ways to gain his release, which, for him, is death.He has long ago decided who he is, his attitude to life and the worth of the people around him. He thinks he knows it all. Then he is put under the charge of Thomas, a man younger than himself who he has already summed up and judged.It is only when he understands the errors he made in doing this, that he can start to appreciate the crime he committed that resulted in his being imprisoned.Told wholly from Merrick's POV, the reader needs to remember his testimony is not always reliable or accurate, as he sees the world from a very restricted perspective.Through Thomas, his eyes are opened. This can make the story confusing, so it's worth a re-read when finished to see the points the author is making.It's also worth thinking about places like Abu Ghraib when reading this. I'm not sure if it was on Dusk's mind as most of the author's research was in historical prison systems, but some elements seem similar.And while the story is dark, there is still hope and love and the prospect of a better future. This isn't of the "and now they lived happily ever after" variety with everything wrapped up neatly in an unbelievably pretty package style. More a glimmer of light on the horizon.Definitely worth reading and discussing. The prose is fluid, the pacing good, just don't let your own expectations and preconceptions get in the way of what the author is trying to do.