This was one of those books that I'd picked up without any concept of what it was about, so I was pleasantly surprised to realise it was an intricately narrated tale, weaving Russian politics with folklore.
It starts with Marya, a girl watching birds outside her window; birds which turn into men and marry her sisters. Eventually, she sees her own husband as a bird - except her man is Koshei - the Tsar of Death. The book focuses on Mayra's life on two levels; on one, travelling through a fantastical world of folklore, where she meets much-loved characters like Baba Yaga - and on the other level, moving through the events of the Russian revolution.
There was much to love about this book. The narrative style is rich, imaginative and lyrical - and for me, easily the best thing about it. I also loved the characters; not just ballsy Marya and the sad yet slightly scary Koshei, but also the bit-parts too, like the numerous Yelenas in the factory or the domovai.
There were times when admittedly, I was a bit lost; and I had to turn back a few pages to 'rehook' myself into the story. However, I loved the concept of this book and I'd really recommend reading it - it's quite unlike anything else I've read recently.
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