By GennaRose Nethercott
September 13, 2022 • 448 Pages
I have to admit this book dragged me. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the world or found it uninteresting. Baba Yaga and Thistlefoot (a house on chicken legs!) are intriguing characters that I would have preferred to learn/read more about. And at the heart of the novel is the importance of folklore, the importance of storytelling and preserving memories and history— even the most horrific ones (Holocaust).
I just can not connect nor care for the main characters— and it’s because they are so overly described that I got tired of sitting with them. Yes, the writing is lyrical and descriptive, but it got to a point where all the embellishments became tedious to deal with.
Bellatine is so whiny and it’s incredibly tiresome to be in her head as her thoughts are all the same— bitterness towards her brother and self-deprecation being the most prevalent. Isaac, her brother, is a bit more interesting and witty but also self-deprecating and dull.
I also felt as if this book was doing far too much at once— too many unnecessary characters, too many different myths/themes, too much repetitive angsts over the same people and same things, too many scenes more or less depicting the antagonist (a demon called the Longshadow Man) spreading poison and evil to random civilians.
I truly feel this book would be far more enjoyable had it been more focused and intentional with its narrative choices. Less unnecessary description and more action.
Despite my complaints, however, there were several pages that I enjoyed reading and felt were insightful and witty. The story is, at its core, imaginative and mythical and I am endeared by the folklore.
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