This was such a fantastically icy magical adventure!
I really loved how it tangled historical fiction and Russian fairytales together — it was full of snow and ice and dubious sorceresses (which I loved because that gave me Narnia throwbacks…I grew up with the audiobooks on repeat!). So I just really enjoyed gobbling up this middle-grade magical fantasy this afternoon. Also that cover? Can we just say entirely gorgeous.😍
It follows Lina and her best friend Bogdan who are in a Russian concentration camp, planning an escape that goes terribly wrong. They end up having to run from their fellow-escapee companions, who want them dead because there’s not enough food, and the two best friends end up meeting a strange lady in the woods who turns bad men into ghost wolves. She’s fearsome, mysterious, and…jaded. Meet Svetlana: probably a sorceress and probably dangerous. They can’t trust her…or is there more to her story than the tricky magic and anger she presents?
It has some dark undertones, especially with the concentration camp, but it definitely keep things on the lighter side for the kids 😭💛I also appreciated how it discussed the abuse of power, how bad people can say “nice things” but how it’s manipulative and wrong. It’s really good to start talking to kids about that.
The magical part was GORGEOUS. Lina slowly discovers she has powers! We also: (a) meet the cutest ever little spirit, (b) everyone eats a lot of bad bread and frozen onions, (c) there’s a magical cloak and (d) Lina is quick-thinking and Bogdan makes maps and it’s just so terrifically FRIGID AND COLD. The chill fairly seeps off the pages.
Imagining tends to give people inconvenient ideas, and those with power don’t like to be inconvenienced.
Oh Lina was amazing! She was a total mix between spicy and determined, but also kind and gentle. Like NO WAY was anyone going to be harmed if Lina was there. Bogdan tagged along loyally and they meet a few epic people along the way too!
Also MAGIC. Magic everywhere. Frosty and intricate and lovely.
A beautiful read! (Although!!! Feed these kids!! I was so hungry on their behalf 🥺)
Thanks Walker Books for the review-copy! It came out November, 2019!
A gorgeous, snowy adventure, set in the wilds of Siberia, full of magic and wonder, for junior readers.
Born in a Soviet prison camp, Lina has never seen the world outside until the night she escapes with her best friend, Bogdan. As the pair journey across a snowy wilderness, they are pursued by a vengeful sorceress and her pack of shadow wolves. The children will need every ounce of courage – and a whisper of magic – if they are to survive…
| WHAT DO YOU THINK? |
tell me your favourite Russian books!! and do you read much middle-grade? is this one on your TBR?