Palwick provides an alien perspective to human colonisation, through Llhosi, a protagonist with a somewhat unctious, Harry Potter Dobbie-esque, narrative style.
Llhosi has been adopted by Master and Mistress (or perhaps tones of the early Asimovs Robot stories?), from an orphanage. Llhosi’s race have the ability to shape matter, although her own abilities are much reduced due to ill health, and through her interactions with the family’s children, Llhosi finally finds out about her people, their long-gone civilisation, and the virus that has decimated her race.
Llhosi takes the closing revelation with equanimity, finding in the end that she does have the energy to shape something of which to be proud.