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Ivan and Marya by Anna Kashina

July 1, 2010

Ivan and Marya by Anna Kashina

Every Solstice, every year, a young girl dies to prolong the life of a madman.

While the girl’s soul is fed to Kaschey the undead by his daughter, the gloriously beautiful Marya, the girl’s body drowns in the clutches of Vodyanoy at the bottom of the Sacrifice Pool.

Every Solstice a hero tries to stop them…and dies.

But this is Ivan’s year. Though his brothers plot his death, and the villagers whose daughters are dying warn him not to interfere, Ivan the Fool is determined to stop the sacrifice.

With the help of the immortals, gotten by sympathy, force, or guile, Ivan believes his love will save the beautiful Marya from herself.

I have not had the pleasure of reading the myth/folktale this novel was based on. However, having now read Anna Kashina’s retelling of it, I now want to.

Ivan and Marya is tightly, beautifully written, and in such a way that it reads like a fairytale. Tight, but also expansive enough to satisfy readers of novels, who want a little extra introspection. A little more description. This novel has it in spades. Rich description, fascinating characters with dark motivations and even darker methods, and scenes that keep the story moving ever forward. Anna Kashina does not waste a single word.

I adored all the dark elements of course. It was one of the reasons I was so hot for this particular release. How much of it is Anna Kashina’s own world building and how much of it is true to the old tale, I cannot rightly say. But if it is true to the story then it sounds like she paid a great deal of homage to it. Because I was absolutely hooked. I actually forgot to take notes because I couldn’t stop reading, so engaged and enchanted I was by the story. I couldn’t put it down, and it ended up taking my entire afternoon from me when I was supposed to have been doing other things. Which is probably the highest compliment a reader can give to a writer.

It helps that I am fascinated by Russian culture (I’m studying the language as well, actually). And I loved the little bits of insight I got from reading Ivan and Marya.

The romance was sweet. I only wish there had been a little more of it, or a little more interaction between Ivan and Marya. But I’m not displeased with the scenes where they did interact, and the other characters are so fascinating unto themselves that I didn’t mind devoting my attention to them. Chief among these were Wolf, Baba Yaga, Oskana and The Cat.

I definitely recommend Ivan and Marya to any lover or dark fantasy or romance. Or for those of us who want a bit of both. 🙂

If you liked what I’ve had to say about Ivan and Marya, you may find yourself a copy at Drollerie Press.

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