Publisher: Del Ray
Source: NetGalley and Publisher for review
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.My thoughts:
I knew I wanted to read this as soon as I understood it was a retelling of mythology, especially one that I'm not familiar. And while I've seen people equate Frost with Jack Frost in nature (and I totally see why), he felt more like a Russian version of Hades and his twin brother reminded me of Ares and Phobos combined. We also get some house spirits that reminded me of the mythology of Brownies but friendlier. Yes, you can safely say I enjoyed this book.
You follow Vasya who comes from an unusual lineage and has a wild and forthright attitude and is a strong woman. Of course during this time period, that causes problems, but he family still supports her being who she really is inside (with the exception of the step-monster... uh... mother). She has magic in her blood which also causes problems when an enigmatic priest comes to spread the word of God. This does deal with religion, but really isn't religious. The world this story inhabits is when pagan mythos clashed with Christian mythos. It reminds me of many of the stories you get when the fae diminish because of the one God religion. All is very familiar so it helps with those of us who don't know much about Russian mythology.
In the end Vasya makes difficult choices and also isn't the one to make the big sacrifice. I liked that she didn't fight as a man and didn't know how but had her own strengths she wielded with courage and wisdom. To me, this made her strong as she did not emulate man but was her own woman. There is also very little romance to the story and this book may become part of a series. I hope so because there is hint of something at the end and I need to know more. It isn't a cliffie, but I need that story I am hoping to get.
I give this book 4 stars. It is highly recommended to those that love mythology stories and a strong woman character who defies what she "should" become and has the courage to find herself.