I received this free digital ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
A young woman’s family is threatened by forces both real and fantastical in this debut novel inspired by Russian fairy tales.
In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift – a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, Pytor hides the gift away and Vasya grows up a wild, willful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.
This story had some amazing potential what with utilizing Russian folklore and fairy tales. It could have been a fantastic story. In fact, many of the details were fantastic. However, the actual application and follow through were not up to par. I was hoping for more folklore. It was a main plot point, but this isn’t made apparent until well on in the book, which is disappointing. The folklore is the best part.
There were quite a few pieces of this book that felt disconnected. One of the biggest pieces for me was who the story followed. It starts out following some characters and then as the story progresses it follows others, but doesn’t stick to them. Even the main character, Vasya, isn’t consistently followed. And while following other characters definitely adds insight to the world, I was a little put off by it. I would have like more consistency or perhaps just a select few who were followed.
Another piece of disconnect had to do with the story timeline. The story is about Vasya, but instead of picking a select point in her life, perhaps a few months to a few years, it follows her from birth to teenager. There was so many gaps in the timeline that I found myself feeling slowed down while reading and losing connection with the characters. I would have preferred the story focus on a smaller chunk of time to allow more connection with Vasya herself.