Friday, December 29, 2017

Review: The Lost Season of Love and Snow

The Lost Season of Love and Snow The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 Stars

Natalya Goncharova Pushkina, reputed to be the most beautiful Russian woman in her day, has historically received a great deal of blame for the death of her husband Alexander Pushkin, Russia's most famous poet, in a duel fought over her reputation and his honor. The degree to which Natalya was responsible for the duel has long been debated by Pushkin historians. I agree with author Jennifer Laam that, since history has largely been written by men, misbehaving women, or more accurately, women not conforming to their cultural and societal roles are treated badly in historical accounts.

I have to admit that I found this book tough going in passages. The first person narrative choice (Natalya's voice) just did not seem to be the best fit, in my opinion. I am sure the choice was made to try to invest the readers in the heroine's viewpoint and her world, but for me, it didn't work. What I struggled with in this book is the fact that the first person narrator often seemed to be reflecting on observations more suited to an older, omniscient third-person narrator, stripping the voice of authenticity from a character who, though very bright, is only sixteen years old at the start of the book. (Admittedly, often counted as a young adult in that age.) The reader definitely cares about the lives of Natalia and Alexander but I felt that a deeper exploration of the relationship and its obvious downfalls (the societal "burden" of her beauty and vivacity, his reactions to it) might have been better explored in third-person narration. Nevertheless, here we are.

This book seeks to tell Natalya's side of history and that it does. Laam has definitely sought to exculpate Natalya from direct responsibility for Pushkin's death and makes a good case for societal views of women being responsible for Natalya's loss and Pushkin's death. While expected to be vivacious when young and unmarried, the more sober role of married women with children in this historical period often pushed even women in the upper classes to keep their sparkle and light under a proverbial bushel. Natalya attracted much attention, and not just from her devoted husband. An insult at the hands of her besotted brother-in-law results in a duel defending her reputation and her husband's honor. The duel, as all who know of Pushkin's history, cut short his life at the young age of 37. The agonizing last two days of Pushkin's life are given searing spotlight here. As a famous beauty who tried to revel in the expectations of women of her era, even as they chafed, Natalya has been called vain, cold, selfish and many, many worse things. Since Larisa Cherkashina's 2012 biography Natalya Goncharova, which portrays another side to her character thanks in part drawing on her letters and writings, has still not made its way into English translation, this book, though a novel, stands as one of the few English language defenses of Natalya's character. Laam, who has written other novels dealing with Russian history clearly loves her subjects. I just wish editorial guidance had steered this to a different narrative angle.

Natalia Goncharova Pushkina, 1830's and artist unknown

Natalya Goncharova Pushkina, 1843, by Vladimir Hau
Painted a year before her return to society and remarriage

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Review: American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West

American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West by Nate Blakeslee
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars

Many of us who are interested in the environment have seen the transformative effects of reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone. (The technical term for this effect is a trophic cascade.) Once hunted to near extinction in the contiguous US, the resurgent wolf population in Yellowstone has been shown to affect rivers, elk and bison herds, and sadly, ranchers. While environmentalists have hailed the growing numbers of apex predator wolves, hunters have complained about the reduction in elk herds, and cattle ranchers blame wolves for culling their herds.

O-Six, ('06) made famous by naturalist Rick McIntyre and by the NatGeo Wild documentary She Wolf (which can be watched on YouTube), is the charismatic central figure in Nate Blakeslee's American Wolf. The collision of interests recounted with journalistic intent to providing balanced reporting leaves the reader no less saddened by the heartbreaking fate of this magnificent wolf. A rare female pack leader, O-Six managed to survive the collapse of her birth pack after the death of her father, the alpha, and rebound to build her own lethally efficient pack that sought control of the pristine Lamar Valley. Her pack, the Lamar Canyon Pack, and the tale of this wolf are thrilling. But the political and economic interests that swell around and against the successful reintroduction of wolves are those which reflect the present-day political and lobby interests working against environmentalists.

When you talk about wolves out West, the word you hear again and again is polarization. Environmentalism isn't occurring in a vacuum, and wolves don't see park boundaries. In the winter, if you can't catch elk, herds of cattle and bison owned by ranchers must look all too tempting. The opposing viewpoints brought about by the renaissance of packs of apex predators has been the subject of attention for a while and anyone who loves the idea of wolves returning to the Southern 48 knows of the death of O-Six at the hands of a trophy hunter. Her pack subsequently fractured, but the Lamar Canyon wolves are now led by O-Six's daughter, Middle Gray.

This is a beautiful, albeit heartbreaking book, with no easy solutions. The wolves should remain for the health of Yellowstone Park and the ranchers and hunters are definitely determined to remain, as well. While I enjoyed Blakeslee's writing the lack of photos in the book was disappointing. Not sure if this was due to expensive photo rights, but the book felt a bit barren for its lack of imagery.

I received a copy of this book from Crown Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Review: Carnegie's Maid

Carnegie's Maid Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

I received a Digital and Paper Review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

3.75 Stars

I read Marie Benedict's previous outing, The Other Einstein, with dissatisfaction that was probably borne of her lack of understanding of collegial work and intellectual attributions in the sciences and her overstating Mileva Maric's contributions to Einstein's Theory of Relativity for dramatic effect. (Once again, even if Mileva's discussions with Albert contributed substantially to his solving the relativity issue, she should have been credited for her contributions- there was no need to fabricate a situation in which he stole an idea of hers when clearly she never showed independent work in this particular area. With her math skills and his interest, she impacted his work and deserved full credit for her contribution. That contribution and its recognition was worth a book, right there.) Still, in spite of my dissatisfaction, Benedict is a capable writer and I wanted to read something of hers in which I was less vested. Being of Irish descent myself, and having ancestors that made their way to the US about the same time as Benedict's protagonist Clara Kelly, I was intrigued by what this book might have to offer about the Irish immigrant experience in the mid-1800's.

I'm happy to report that I find Carnegie's Maid is an all-around better book. The premise of the book centers on the stimulus for Andrew Carnegie's becoming a philanthropist and famous builder of public libraries. The reason behind his becoming a keen philanthropist remains a mystery to this day. Benedict provides us with an interesting idea- that it was a woman who influenced him and specifically, a woman from the social class from which he originally stemmed. For romance junkies out there, it's important to note that rather than being a conventional romance, this is a novel of the realities of social classes of the period, how difficult it was to gain purchase on a higher class, especially by marriage, and how ill-regarded the nouveau riche were. Relationships between the upper classes and the servant class never ended well. But here, that's not much of a worry. Stealing the identity of another Clara Kelly in order to get a ride and potential work in Pittsburgh, the heroine of this tale keeps her family, who are in dire straits, ever to the fore of her thoughts. She does so unfailingly. The view of Irish poverty both at home and in the US, as seen through Clara's eyes, is harrowing.

Andrew Carnegie is, in Benedict's hands, by turns a rather cutthroat businessman and a man struggling to remember his lean start in life. Born in a one-room weaver's cottage in Scotland, he and his parents emigrated to the US on borrowed funds and he eeked out a grinding living at the age of 13, working 12 hours a day, six days a week, in a Pittsburgh bobbin factory, Carnegie rose to be the wealthiest man in America and in acts of stunning philanthropy, donated an estimated 90% of his accumulated wealth to various libraries, universities, and foundations by the time of his death.

As I finished the book, I have to say that I thought that one likely conclusion about Andrew Carnegie's desire to provide access to books and education for the public was simply what that same access had meant to his mother, Margaret, who as even Benedict pointed out, read often and widely once she had access to books in the US. What greater way to honor his mother than with this legacy of free and public access to books and the education they provide.

There were various details that I thought stretched my imagination about the degree of contact between Andrew and Clara, or even simple details about things like whether it would be a lady's maid serving at dinner in a pinch, vs. a housemaid, or whether the lady's maid would hold the chatelaine versus the housekeeper. But let it all go and have a fun read. It may make you, like me, want to pick up a biography of Carnegie, or read about Irish immigrants in America.

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Review: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

If I am honest, although lured by this gorgeous cover, my main interest in reading this book is that Max Gladstone has often spoken about how much he loves Patricia McKillip's writing, and this book in particular, with its magnificent and evolving protagonist. (We should all listen to Max...) Published in 1974 and recently re-released by Tachyon Press, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld teaches us about the power of love, about betrayal, insight, and trust. It's a beautiful work of fantasy written in lush prose. This book has made me determined to read more of McKillip's work.

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Looking for Holiday Book Suggestions?

Last week was crazy for me and I honestly meant to have this post up sooner. Now it's down to a week before Christmas but books are one of the easiest and best last minute gifts! You're giving the recipient the trip to another world and/or changing their mind by enriching it. Even as a belated Hannukah present, you can't beat a good book. Here are the best books, in my favorite genres, that I've read in 2017. I'll also make some further recommendations. All the links provided go to Goodreads, where you can look under the synopsis for "Get A Copy" which gives you a variety of choices (except for one of my suggestions below) for buying the book. (I realize not all of you are Amazon fans!)

The Best of 2017 Fantasy

In the realm of Fantasy, clearly one of my favorite genres, I can give hearty recommendations to Alice Hoffman's The Rules of Magic, technically a prequel for her book Practical Magic, but which stands on its own and is a better book all around. In the realm of magical realism, Ruth Emmie Lang's Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstances is an impressive and luminous debut novel. And in the realm of Arabic and Persian mythology, S. A. Chakraborty's The City of Brass, is an equally impressive debut novel, first in a trilogy.

Some of the best books I've read in 2017 have actually been new releases in a series of books.  At the top of the list stands N.K. Jemisin's The Stone Sky, which completes The Broken Earth Trilogy. This series, which began with The Fifth Season and continued in The Obelisk Gate, was simply stunning. Jemisin has won back to back Hugo Awards for the first two books. The Stone Sky is so good, I can envision her being the first author to win three times in a row. As a second entry in the Winternight TrilogyThe Girl in the Tower follows Katherine Arden's impressive debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale. Both books are adaptations of the Russian folklore surrounding Vasilisa the Wise/Brave and Morozko, or Father Frost/Death. The Winternight Trilogy upends the traditional female gender-confined roles in Russian folklore in a marvelous way, giving us a heroine we meet as a child and follow into young adulthood, watching her embrace her gifts. The Book of Dust is the long-awaited follow-up to Philip Pullman's powerful His Dark Materials trilogy. Set in Lyra's Oxford, the book is a prequel of sorts, giving us new protagonists while featuring an infant Lyra along with Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter. (Please note that this latest Pullman entry is not best suited to children or middle grades. See my review of the book for further information.) The Book of Dust can be read as a standalone, without having read His Dark Materials, but it will be a steep learning curve if you haven't read His Dark Materials.

The Best of 2017 Sci-Fi

There are two series that I found in 2017 that are as different as night and day in terms of accessibility and tone. Both are some of the best sci-fi I've read in recent years. Yoon Ha Lee's Machineries of Empire trilogy is a series in which you can envision accelerating to lightspeed, away from everything you know, and come to an abrupt halt only to be dropped into a world in which everything from factions to weapons to ships is different. You know what's the same? Human nature and politics, that's what. Formation instinct be damned! Ninefox Gambit and Raven Strategem, the first two books in the trilogy are brilliant, immersive works of science fiction. In contrast to Lee's books, the happy, light tone of Becky Chamber's Wayfarer series seems like a breath of science fiction fresh air. I'm most reminded of the famous single-season series Firefly in tone. There are wonderful characters, lightness, hope, humor, drama, banter and a beautiful difference in scale- the grand and the small, awaiting readers of these first two books of the Wayfarer world, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, and A Closed and Common Orbit. (I loved A Closed and Common Orbit so much I named my iPad mini Sidra, people.)

The Best of 2017 Young Adult Books

Angie Thomas's searing The Hate U Give has deservedly received a lot of attention this year. It's the best Young Adult Book I read in 2017 and a good book for any young person to read.

The Best Children's Fiction of 2017

In the chapter reader category, Beth Vrabel's book Caleb and Kit, in which a boy with cystic fibrosis meets a girl living in a child abuse/neglect situation, has stayed with me ever since I read the book in early 2017. A thought-provoking read for children from late elementary through the middle grades. In the picture book category, Isabelle Simler's exquisite The Blue Hour and the 2017 Caldecott Medal Honoree Brendan Wenzel's They All Saw A Cat encourage young children to really look at the world and creatures around them.

Best of 2017 Non-Fiction

Kate Moore's The Radium Girls provides us with the perfect example of why allowing corporations and industries to regulate themselves can be disastrous for human health. This scrupulously documented book shows us exactly how and why OSHA became a necessary federal agency.

Finally, not necessarily books from 2017, but great books to share...

Literary Fiction

Anthony Doerr's exquisite All The Light We Cannot See is still one of the most memorable books I have read in the past decade. I cannot recommend this book enough. The melding of art, science, and history in this book is simply breathtaking.

An Indispensable Duology

If you are looking for a gorgeous boxed set for the fantasy lover in your life, Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows Duology both looks and is a smashing gift. You might want to give this gift box set with a package of waffle mix. Or if the person doesn't have a waffle press, just add cupcakes and tea.

A Terrific Kindle Omnibus

Max Gladstone's The Craft Sequence is one of my favorite series. The first five books are available in a Kindle Omnibus edition that is an absolute steal of a price. It is not often that you can get 1800+ pages of writing of this quality for $12 in any genre.

And that's it for my holiday recommendations. What were your best books of 2017?

Review: Shadow Weaver

Shadow Weaver Shadow Weaver by MarcyKate Connolly
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review.
3.5 Stars

I was lured to this book by its magnificent cover and intriguing synopsis. This is such an imaginative premise- Emmeline was born with magic, in the year of a passing Red Comet, and weaves Shadow Magic. Her own shadow, the mercurial and chaotic Dar, is her companion and best friend. Dar has caused more than a bit of trouble for Emmeline, necessitating her leaving her home and all she knows. Along the way, she meets Lucas, a boy similarly affected with magic, albeit magic with light. There can be no shadows without light, but Dar is an unsettled shadow soul.

This book is beautifully written, with elegant prose. I felt that the secondary and tertiary characters were merely sketches, however. The malevolent dynamic with Dar was broadly drawn. The outcome of the first book and its necessity seemed evident from the first few chapters. I felt like I just wanted more from this tale, from its characters and from its central moral.

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Review: The City of Brass

The City of Brass The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Over the past year, I have read several impressive debut novels (Katherine Arden and Ruth Emmie Lang specifically come to mind) where authors have built unique and magical worlds in which the reader can lose themselves. S. A. Chakraborty joins this group with a novel that is mesmerizing and steeped in Arabic and Persian folklore. The City of Brass takes its title from a less well-known tale in A Thousand and One Nights/"The Arabian Nights". (You can read a quick synopsis of the story of the City of Brass, and the seal of Suleiman/Solomon in A Thousand and One Nights here.) As in The Arabian Nights, Chakraborty's City of Brass is set in a world of djinn, ifrits, marids, and daevas* - ancient Avestan/Persian creatures that were considered chaos-promoting and deemed false gods by the Zoroastrians. Here, we travel the paths of the legendary Silk Road and Spice Route, from the bazaars of Cairo to the foothills of the Hindu Kush, Ancient Persia and the legendary City of Brass, Daevabad.

(You find can a key to this map, its various locations and their relevance to the Daevabad Trilogy world here.)

Equal parts fantasy and political intrigue, the first book of The Daevabad trilogy gives us alternating chapters about two main characters, Nahri, a girl with a mysterious history, and Ali, a djinn prince, in a story arc that brings them steadily closer to meeting one another. The inscrutable daeva Dara, a third main character, who rescues and protects Nahri, provides a vivid and visceral presence and has a recent past as mysterious as Nahri's. Chakraborty manages to make what becomes a love triangle an enjoyable read and everyone knows how I loathe love triangles. Nahri's relationship with Dara, grounded in emotion versus that with Ali, grounded in intellectual companionship, forms one of many interesting elements of the book. The misfortunes of being an idealistic second son, and the political implications of racism and slavery figure prominently in this tale. After the rather stunning last few chapters, I am eagerly awaiting The Kingdom of Copper. Although...

"Be careful what you wish for..."

*These are not quite related to the Vedic devas of Indic culture.

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky

Beneath the Sugar Sky Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars!

"All you have to do is believe... There is kindness in the world, if we know how to look for it. If we never start denying it the door."

This is the third book in the Wayward Children series. I have to admit that much as I enjoyed Every Heart a Doorway I have enjoyed the successor books much more. Part of it lies in my growing appreciation for some of the characters (especially Kade, whose sardonic humor is wonderful) but also in my enjoyment of the diverse and imaginative worlds that McGuire has created. Rini's search for her mother Sumi takes us from Eleanor West's school to Nancy's world and into Confection. It dances with time- present, past and future- in delightful ways.

This series is a children's series for young adults or adults. That has probably never been more so than in this book. We can raise the dire warning flag on some more adult language and on the amusing (at least to me) fact that the word "vagina" is high on the list or words used by Rini, one of the central characters. I am sure that's all likely to get this book banned somewhere in Texas. Then of course there is the fact that this entire series is one great big LGBTQ/marginalized children/disabled children confection. A series for all of us who ever felt we didn't fit. For those waiting for their door.

I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Review: Enchantress of Numbers

Enchantress of Numbers Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was excited to have the chance to read a novelization of the life of Ada Lovelace, daughter of the great English romantic poet Lord Byron, who is often credited with writing the first computer algorithm. That algorithm, described in Lovelace's Note G, was to generate the sequence of Bernoulli numbers (numbers commonly found in some Taylor series expansions, power series like the Euler-Maclaurin series and the Riemann zeta function). Lovelace's accomplishment, as a mathematician and hypothetical programmer of Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, has long been shadowed by the tragedy of her death at age 36. (You can read Lovelace's treatise about the Babbage Analytical Engine here) Lovelace, while perhaps not the most pleasant person, led a fascinating though challenging life. She was clearly a brilliant mind. She believed that imagination was crucial to developing mathematics and eschewed her mother's rejection of all things fanciful. The strained relationship she developed with her mother was balanced with the counterpoint of her fascination with her famous (infamous?) father, who she never knew and who died on the Continent when she was only eight years old.

While this book was by no means bad, I was left feeling that it lacked luster and life. Early on, I was bothered by the awkward narrative choice in the first part of the book, in which Annabella, Lady Byron, appears to tell the story of her marriage to George Gordon, Lord Byron, only for us to be told after some 40 pages of third-person narration that it is Ada herself who is telling the story of her parents marriage and then switching to first-person narration and explaining/justifying how a seven-week-old infant can know all these many things. The first person perspective and the narrative pace became tedious at times. The best I can say is that the book may spur readers to read a biography of Lovelace.

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Review: The Girl in the Tower

The Girl in the Tower The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was fortunate to receive an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

"Come in, Vasya," Morozko said. "It is cold."

When last we left Vasilisa Petrovna in The Bear and the Nightingale she had left Leznaya Semlya on her beloved Solovey, the magnificent and magical stallion son of the great horse of Morozko. As the story in The Girl in the Tower opens we find ourselves in Moscow, with Vasya's sister Olya, and eventually again meet her brother Sasha and even the shameful priest who had harmed Leznaya Semlya's delicate balance between the old ways and the new. It takes a deliciously long while for us to find out what happened with Vasya arriving at the home among the tree grove that is Morozko's.

There is no magic. Things are. Or they are not.

In many ways, The Girl in the Tower is a deeper and more complex story than The Bear and the Nightingale. The complexity is both due to the interweaving of more folklore (we see other famous 'monsters' from the pantheon) than just that of Morozko in this book, but also deeper because of questions about mortality, immortality, love, truth, and magic. The relationship between Vasya and Morozko deepens and we find that Death is surprisingly kind. Vasya must deal with further strife in terms of how everyone, at times even Morozko want her to be. But the two most important male figures in her life- Morozko and her brother Sasha, seem to find some way, some space, to allow Vasya to always be herself, even as they fear for her safety. Their fears are well justified. Torn between fates that would be anathema to her- two different towers with both implying differing horrors if you are Vasya, she is also caught between Death and Deathless, for a time.

There was a passage in the first book in which Solovey rebuts Vasya's saying he is not a bird with the comment "You do not know what you are; can you know what I am?" Although, yes, we can call Vasya a witch, I'm not sure, still, even at the end of this book, that we know exactly what Vasya is or what has been passed down to her from Tamara's mother to  Tamara, then Marina to Vasya and even Masha. We are left with strong suspicions, however. It will be interesting to see what Vasya can rebuild from what she has destroyed. And what little Masha will become.

This was a masterful second novel and an entirely satisfying middle book in the Winternight trilogy. I cannot wait to see what Katherine Arden has in store for us in the final book, "The Winter of the Witch."

And your mystery picture about this book is:

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Friday, December 1, 2017

Russian Folklore Sources

Morozko (Father Frost), Ivan Bilibin, 1932

In recent years a number of writers I love have written novels featuring Russian folk figures. From Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series (Baba Yaga variants, volhvs, and Chernobog) to Catherynne Valente's Deathless (Maria Morevna and Koschei the Deathless) to Katherine Arden's Winternight trilogy (Morozko, Vasilisa the Brave), authors are creating their own spin on classic Russian folktales, expanding on the interplay between natural magic and the Church, the Soviet state, taking on stereotypical gender roles imposed on clever women, and mingling modern magic with the old. This post offers the reader some good sources of Russian folklore, most of which are available on Kindle. We'll start with the scholarly sources and then finish up with some children's books.

I've been reading Russian folk and fairy tales since I was five. I still have my first book of Russian Folk Tales:

Russian Folk Tales (Folk Tales of the People's of the U.S.S.R.)

Scholarly Sources

Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales by Sibelan Forrester

This is the most comprehensive book, not just on Baba Yaga stories but also on Baba Yaga imagery. Here we see the full spectrum of Baba Yagas in Slavic culture, from ugly wicked witch (the classic child-eater, etc) to wise woman (the source of solutions to impossible questions like you don't know what and you don't know where). This is a wonderful book and meticulously researched resource.

Russian Folk Belief  by Linda J. Ivanits

While perhaps not the most eloquent in writing style, this book is an excellent resource for those looking for further information and sources on Russian nature spirits (rusalkas, leshii, vodyanoi) and house spirits like domovoi. This book also looks at the interface between Russian folk beliefs and early Christianity in Russian culture.

This highly regarded edition is touted as the most complete volume on Russian fairy tales, including four never before translated versions of stories from the Afanasyev collection. Professor Pilkington uses this book in his class on Russian folk literature.

The original compendium of Russian folktales is the classic Afanasyev edition with hundreds of folk stories. There are many beautiful editions out there but they are all largely the same book and while lacking the glamorous cover of a competitor Kindle edition, the volume at the left has both a searchable table of contents (long listing at the front, compressed listing at the end of the book in lieu of an index) and at the current price of $1.26 simply can't be beat.

Children's Books

N.B. There are so many children's books now on Russian folklore that I'm choosing to focus on figures similar to those in the Katherine Arden Winternight trilogy.

The classic FAther Frost/Morozko story, similar to the Grimm Märchen's Mother Holle, wherein two half-sisters, one good-natured, the other bad-natured, come to differing fortunes when asked to serve a magical figure.

One of the most famous of Russian fairy tales in the classic edition, illustrated by Ivan Bilibin, one of Russia's most beloved illustrators. An iconic story of a mother's love providing the ultimate protection against evil. (Harry Potter, anyone?)

Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave

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