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She is the tormented ghost of a murdered girl, pitiless spirit of the wilderness, who prevails only upon living souls. And her name is the most dreaded in Russian folklore. Rusalka. Impetuous Pyetr Kochevikov, a fugitive from Voyvoda with a price on his head, has none of the superstitions of his fearful young companion, Sasha, as they flee through the vastness of the forest She is the tormented ghost of a murdered girl, pitiless spirit of the wilderness, who prevails only upon living souls. And her name is the most dreaded in Russian folklore. Rusalka. Impetuous Pyetr Kochevikov, a fugitive from Voyvoda with a price on his head, has none of the superstitions of his fearful young companion, Sasha, as they flee through the vastness of the forest. But when they arrive exhausted at the cottage of the wizzard Uulamets, Pyetr is dismayed to learn that he can mock the spirits no longer. And when he finds himself enchanted by Uulamets' beautiful and wraithlike daughter, no mortal power can assuage the Rusalka's terrible thirst for life...


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She is the tormented ghost of a murdered girl, pitiless spirit of the wilderness, who prevails only upon living souls. And her name is the most dreaded in Russian folklore. Rusalka. Impetuous Pyetr Kochevikov, a fugitive from Voyvoda with a price on his head, has none of the superstitions of his fearful young companion, Sasha, as they flee through the vastness of the forest She is the tormented ghost of a murdered girl, pitiless spirit of the wilderness, who prevails only upon living souls. And her name is the most dreaded in Russian folklore. Rusalka. Impetuous Pyetr Kochevikov, a fugitive from Voyvoda with a price on his head, has none of the superstitions of his fearful young companion, Sasha, as they flee through the vastness of the forest. But when they arrive exhausted at the cottage of the wizzard Uulamets, Pyetr is dismayed to learn that he can mock the spirits no longer. And when he finds himself enchanted by Uulamets' beautiful and wraithlike daughter, no mortal power can assuage the Rusalka's terrible thirst for life...

30 review for Rusalka

  1. 4 out of 5

    mark monday

    the cover makes it look so grim, yet this is a rather light and pleasant fantasy, most of the time. bad things happen but overall it is an earnest and loveable novel. which made it enjoyable but also unmemorable and somewhat of a disappointment. i was hoping for much darker things. russian mythology is scary mythology! russia is scary! i wanted old school russia i guess, gogol set in an enchanted forest. but what i got was robin mckinley lite. ah well.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Thom

    This is a story about a young wizard and a gambler, thrown together and sent on an adventure. They encounter a dead girl and her living elderly father, a wizard in his own right. Descriptions of Mythic Russia include people, places and creatures – including that of the title. From the author's description, "A rusalka is a Russian ghost: a drowned maiden who dies for love will become a rusalka, haunting the river where she perished." A few other Russian beasties appear in this story – including ba This is a story about a young wizard and a gambler, thrown together and sent on an adventure. They encounter a dead girl and her living elderly father, a wizard in his own right. Descriptions of Mythic Russia include people, places and creatures – including that of the title. From the author's description, "A rusalka is a Russian ghost: a drowned maiden who dies for love will become a rusalka, haunting the river where she perished." A few other Russian beasties appear in this story – including bannik, leshy, and vodyanoy. The interactions of these between themselves and with the main characters form much of what I liked about this book. Unfortunately there was a lot I had difficulties with. The thought processes of each main character were overly detailed, slowing any action to a crawl. I've read Heinlein's chapter-long discussions between characters easily enough, but found myself distracted or worse, nodding off during thought-filled paragraphs in this book. When the characters conversed, the dialogue wasn't much better, and could be repetitive at times. The book does contain a few action sequences, including most of the first chapter. These went by quickly, perhaps because the characters were focused on actions instead of thoughts. Rusalka is the first book in a series of three, though it definitely stands alone as a complete story. I read the paperback version, from Del Rey and Ballantine. The rights have reverted to the author, who has rewritten and republished the following two books, Chernevog and Yvgenie. If I were to read the rest of this series, those are the versions I would seek out. And that's the rub – I don't think I will, or at least not in the near future. C.J. Cherryh is an award winning author, and this book was nominated for a Locus Fantasy award in 1990 (losing out to Orson Scott Card's Prentice Alvin). I just don't have the stamina to work through another book like this one. After spending more than three weeks with these characters, Rusalka rates just 2 out of 5.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    Sasha (orphan stableboy with some talent for magic) and Pyetr (young, genial ne'er-do-well) are driven from their home village of Vojvoda into the forest -- the creepy and largely dead forest -- where their path takes them to the riverside cottage of one Uulamets, a wizard, and his dead daughter Eveshka, the titular rusalka. This is really more of a ghost story, almost a horror story, than anything -- the woods are dead (drained by Eveshka over the years) and inhabited only by various spirits of Sasha (orphan stableboy with some talent for magic) and Pyetr (young, genial ne'er-do-well) are driven from their home village of Vojvoda into the forest -- the creepy and largely dead forest -- where their path takes them to the riverside cottage of one Uulamets, a wizard, and his dead daughter Eveshka, the titular rusalka. This is really more of a ghost story, almost a horror story, than anything -- the woods are dead (drained by Eveshka over the years) and inhabited only by various spirits of wood and water and hearth. As this is a Cherryh novel, the characters' interior landscapes are just as important and well-realized (and often just as desolate and claustrophobic) as the outside world, and it's amazing how much tension and sense of place she can wring out of a book that takes place primarily with two (or maybe three or four) isolated characters making their way through the woods.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Library of a Moon Child

    I found Rusalka somewhere on bookstagram, someone was praising the series and when I saw it's inspired by Slavic Folklore, there's a crazy wizard and a big, scary forest - it's all I want and love! Sadly, I realized why the book's been out of print since the 90s 😂 First of all, the synopsys was pretty misleading, this is not a light, funny read. Petyr and Sasha, our main characters, are on the run because they've both been accused of witchcraft. Wounded, unequipped and without a plan of any kind, I found Rusalka somewhere on bookstagram, someone was praising the series and when I saw it's inspired by Slavic Folklore, there's a crazy wizard and a big, scary forest - it's all I want and love! Sadly, I realized why the book's been out of print since the 90s 😂 First of all, the synopsys was pretty misleading, this is not a light, funny read. Petyr and Sasha, our main characters, are on the run because they've both been accused of witchcraft. Wounded, unequipped and without a plan of any kind, they flee into the forest that's been called cursed for years. The first part of the book is basically pure survival, I'm still not sure how the hell they didn't die in a dead russian forest in the middle of January with one (1) coat, no food, a serious injury and no fire or shelter. I mean, I know after reading the rest of the book, but even the magical explanation isn't really believable. Finally they come up to a cottage in the middle of the forest and there's where the fun begins. It's the home of a half-crazed wizard named Uulamets, whose only wish is to bring back his dead daughter, the rusalka. He sees the two fugitives as the perfect tool to resurrect her. I don't want to spoil the rest but let me tell you, that Petyr has some sass. He was so sarcastic through the entire book, it was amazing 😂 the younger guy, Sasha, has some magical powers himself, but he's so afraid of everything, he only made me annoyed. I swear the guy said "I'm sorry" 1157 times. The thing I loved the most, as excpected, were the mythical creatures - the rusalka, the vodyanoi, domovoi, dvorovoi, the leshys. I'm so fascinated by the slavic folklore 😍 The magic in this series works on the manifesting, wishing, principle. The magicians have the power to "wish" things to happen. But it's tricky because even the simple, unconscious wishes come true and they have to be very careful. This book wasn't bad, don't get me wrong, but the writing style threw me off. It was quite confusing at times, I had to go back and check if I missed any pages. Some parts were almost a stream of consciousness from the characters perspective and I'm not a big fan of it. The book ended on a cliffhanger but I'm not sure yet if I'll continue. The story itself was interesting but the way it's written has kinda ruined it for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Ugh. I love Russian folklore, so I was hopeful for a series that would share some of what has so enthralled me over the years, but this series falls sharply short. The prose is muddled, the representation of pre-Christian Russian beliefs oddly skewed and the plot trajectory awkward and unsatisfying. I never made it past this first book of the trilogy and don't plan to.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    I love CJCherry. Clearly she was still honing her writing chops with this book. It hurts me to say it but I just didn't enjoy reading this. I like Russian folktales so this should have been a winner in all ways for me. Ah well.... The 3 stars is rounding up. I couldn't bare to give any book of hers a 2.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    In a fantasy version of medieval Russia, Sasha is an orphaned stableboy cursed by bad luck – or so he and the entire town believes. Anything Sasha wishes can come true, which is actually a terrifying, unpredictable power; as a young child, he wished for his father to stop beating him and his house promptly burnt down, killing both his parents. Sasha tries very hard therefore not to wish for anything, never to get angry, and to want as little as possible. All of this changes when he meets Pyetr, a In a fantasy version of medieval Russia, Sasha is an orphaned stableboy cursed by bad luck – or so he and the entire town believes. Anything Sasha wishes can come true, which is actually a terrifying, unpredictable power; as a young child, he wished for his father to stop beating him and his house promptly burnt down, killing both his parents. Sasha tries very hard therefore not to wish for anything, never to get angry, and to want as little as possible. All of this changes when he meets Pyetr, a young gambler who has ingratiated himself with the rich men of town by being charming and fun. But Pyetr is unfairly accused of murder and his friends abruptly become a lot less charmed, leaving Pyetr with no one to rely on but a chance-met Sasha. The two of them flee town together and quickly find themselves lost in a forest in late winter, the worst time of year: mud and melt and dead branches and nothing new growing yet. They're taken in by a mysterious old man who could be a wizard – and thus tied to Sasha's own power of wishing – who asks in return for his help that they rescue his dead daughter, currently a rusalka (a sort of hungry ghost). And then things get complicated. I liked the magic system in this book a lot. Magic is powerful and nearly everywhere, but it is also impossible to predict, slippery and wiley and full of unintended consequences. There are ent-like forest spirits, huge shapeshifter river things, protective and oddly cute house guardians. People give away their hearts, literally, and wizards prove to be very hard to trust. Sasha is a great character, good-hearted and uncertain of himself and desperately wanting a friend. He reminded me a lot of Maia from The Goblin Emperor – that same sort of young man thrust into a position of power and struggling to learn how to use it without doing harm, and meanwhile being very lonely. Rusalka as a whole has a similar sweet, uplifting tone to The Goblin Emperor, in fact, though with a more adventurous plot and a bit more loss in the end. It also has a lot of people trudging through the woods at the end of their rope, injured and exhausted and under various spells or ghost influence, with all the accompanying H/C. Which I know is a plus for many of you. :D Sasha and Pyetr have an adorable friendship, and are constantly worrying about one another and putting the other first. It's a great book, though in a particularly iddy-fanfic sort of way. It's also the first of a trilogy, and I am looking forward to reading the others. Note: I read the version available on Cherryh's website, which apparently has been slightly rewritten from the version published originally. She talks a bit about the choice to rewrite here.

  8. 4 out of 5

    De3tuss

    Very, very far away from heroic fantasy, but not-the-less, one of the best fantasy’s books I have read, and so - one of my favorites. I really liked the way Cherryh has managed to capture the essence of classical Russian fairytale, and also - of Russian culture. The atmosphere and the scenery is excellently built as well. What I really enjoyed it, tho, were the two leading characters. The dynamic between Sasha and Peter is extremely realistic and masterly done. Both of them need to get some rapid Very, very far away from heroic fantasy, but not-the-less, one of the best fantasy’s books I have read, and so - one of my favorites. I really liked the way Cherryh has managed to capture the essence of classical Russian fairytale, and also - of Russian culture. The atmosphere and the scenery is excellently built as well. What I really enjoyed it, tho, were the two leading characters. The dynamic between Sasha and Peter is extremely realistic and masterly done. Both of them need to get some rapid growing up to do – both the boy and the man (some boys just stay boys longer). It’s exqusitly well told and excellent physiologically motivated transgression. No usual spell-casting here, I’m afraid, nothing so easily definable as a spell. Magic has much more a real feel in this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    Based on pre-Christian Russian mythology, this is a surprisingly well done narrative of two young men on the run whose flight into a dead forest ensnares them in a wizard's attempt to bring back to life his dead daughter. One could possibly make several criticisms of the plot and its pace or the author's perception of the Slavic mythology, but her wonderful articulation of the psychic mechanics of magic and her descriptive prose eclipses any quibbles, most of which aren't really worth mentioning Based on pre-Christian Russian mythology, this is a surprisingly well done narrative of two young men on the run whose flight into a dead forest ensnares them in a wizard's attempt to bring back to life his dead daughter. One could possibly make several criticisms of the plot and its pace or the author's perception of the Slavic mythology, but her wonderful articulation of the psychic mechanics of magic and her descriptive prose eclipses any quibbles, most of which aren't really worth mentioning. Admittedly, I don't read much fantasy anymore, because it all tends to be the same outside of the greater works like Gene Wolfe and Tolkien, but Ms. Cherryh has a new fan.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sonanova

    I read this book years ago and confess that I totally forgot about it, except that I must have liked it enough then to buy it and the two subsequent books in the trilogy in pretty hardcover. In reality, I think I just loved the setting and Cherryh's uncomplicated style. Sometimes I wanted there to be more insightful motivations behind the characters, but in the end, not everyone can be overly complicated and it is, afterall, very much like a fairy tale or ghost story.

  11. 4 out of 5

    KJ

    Two runaways get lost in the deep Russian forests, are beset by monsters, ghosts, and wizards, and decide to make it home. I have such a huge soft spot for the characters and the world-logic of these wizards, even if the narration itself gets more than a little muddled.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shoryl

    I never did finish this book, because it's scary in that creepy-things-hiding-under-the-bed sort of way. Which will make some people like it a lot.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ben Andrus

    I wanted to like this book much more than I did. It seemed as if the author knew where she wanted to end up but struggles to get there. The characters stumbled around in the woods an awful lot, so most of the story was a bit of a muddle until the last 30 pages.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Devlin Scott

    If wishes were magic…that’s the premise of this novel. If you’re a powerful magician, your wishes become your magic spells. Your wishes can come true, but there’s a price, a balance that must be created and maintained. In this tale, Ilya, the old malevolent (seeming) wizard, is attempting to bring his ghost of a Daughter, Eveshka, back to the world of the living. Sasha, the young wizard boy with incredibly powerful wishes, is caught between the old master’s need to resurrect his daughter and the If wishes were magic…that’s the premise of this novel. If you’re a powerful magician, your wishes become your magic spells. Your wishes can come true, but there’s a price, a balance that must be created and maintained. In this tale, Ilya, the old malevolent (seeming) wizard, is attempting to bring his ghost of a Daughter, Eveshka, back to the world of the living. Sasha, the young wizard boy with incredibly powerful wishes, is caught between the old master’s need to resurrect his daughter and the young thief’s (Pyetr) love for the ghostly and powerfully, hungry daughter. There are a few unique characters we meet along the way: Kavi Chernevog , the evil apprentice responsible for Eveshka’s demise, Vodyanoi, an evil and powerful river ‘thing’ bent on devouring them all, domovoi, a basement ‘thing’ that is best left in the shadows and, my personal favorite, Babi (dvorovoi), a yard-thing that has the loving obedience of a new found puppy and the savage terror of a heartless bear. I like that Babi likes vodka. I want a Babi of my own. lol This romantic adventure is based on Russian folklore and is a great story worth experiencing. The prose is a bit weak and some of the sentences are ill constructed, making it difficult to glean their meanings and this is the only reason I gave the novel three rather than four stars. Yet, I found myself loving this lightly romantic story and I will reread it at some point. Hopefully, the tale will convince me to raise the rating… Devlin

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    In tsarist Russia, a kitchen boy and a playboy are forced on the run. Wounded and with few resources, they escape into the surrounding woods--and there encounter spirits and demons of all varieties. The relationship between the two men is really sweet and contentious; they each like each other a great deal but are troubled by aspects of their relationship. It's pleasantly, subtextually slashy. Unfortunately, the story is bogged down by endless scenes of them feeling confused. I know they're over In tsarist Russia, a kitchen boy and a playboy are forced on the run. Wounded and with few resources, they escape into the surrounding woods--and there encounter spirits and demons of all varieties. The relationship between the two men is really sweet and contentious; they each like each other a great deal but are troubled by aspects of their relationship. It's pleasantly, subtextually slashy. Unfortunately, the story is bogged down by endless scenes of them feeling confused. I know they're over their heads in this situation, but couldn't they know *something*?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    I enjoyed the story, but the writing style was much too awkward. There are two primary characters, Pyetr and Sasha, and the point of view keeps switching between the two without warning, which made me take far too long to read it. Also, from what I know of Russian mythological creatures, Cherryh's creatures are just too nice! Her rusalka, at her worst, seems like she's just a girl who made a mistake and regrets it. Never mind that she's destroyed a forest the size of a mid-sized country.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    One of my favorite books of all time. Pyetr and Sasha must run way from their Russian village or be accused of a crime. They end up in a shack in the forest owned by a strange old man whose daughter, Eveshka, is a vengeful ghost. The writing is excellent and it is difficult to follow what is going on because the author doesn't just give everyone's motivations away.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Having read Cherryh's very high tech space station series, I was pleased to see this book, from the other end of the story telling spectrum, a low fantasy based in the folk magic of medieval Russia, with people living quite literally down in the dirt and dependent on frightening magic and the willingness of people around them to pull together as a team.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shardis

    Russian mythos, good story. Gotta like a different take on ghosts & magic though. Russian mythos, good story. Gotta like a different take on ghosts & magic though.

  20. 4 out of 5

    The Fairy Godmother

    Based on Slavic mythology.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Eskana

    I don't quite know what to think of "Rusalka" .... it's not good, it's not bad- it just exists. Plot Summary: The plot is set in Russia, not sure when but before there were guns... and it focuses on two people, Sasha and Pyotr (although Sasha is 15 and Pyotr is close to upper 20s? Hard to tell.) They live in the same town but don't really know each other until one day Pyotr is accused of murder, and Sasha gets caught up in it. They both escape, but then are forced to wander the wilderness in earl I don't quite know what to think of "Rusalka" .... it's not good, it's not bad- it just exists. Plot Summary: The plot is set in Russia, not sure when but before there were guns... and it focuses on two people, Sasha and Pyotr (although Sasha is 15 and Pyotr is close to upper 20s? Hard to tell.) They live in the same town but don't really know each other until one day Pyotr is accused of murder, and Sasha gets caught up in it. They both escape, but then are forced to wander the wilderness in early spring, when there's absolutely nothing to eat, and so they are close to starving when they finally happen on someone's door. Uulamets is not a nice old man, but they soon find out he is a wizard, and he more or less forces them to stay (since Sasha believes in magic and is deathly afraid of leaving or offending the wizard or any spirits, although Pyotr thinks he's crazy) and it turns out the old man is trying to bring back his daughter to life. She died under mysterious circumstances and has come back as a rusalka, the unhappy spirit of a murdered young girl who preys on the life of others to survive. She has already drained the entire forest, and then she sets her sights on Pyotr. What follows is a confusing mix of magic, spells, and general back-and-forth, who's who confusion that is the rest of the book. The good: .... I enjoy the focus on Russian folklore, and the system of magic here was interesting, if very simple... If you have magic, you can "wish" (i.e., will) something to happen, but you ahve to be careful because it may come true in an obtuse and detrimental way. As a result, you have Sasha wishing as hard as he can for something, and then maybe something happening because he wished it. IT was different, I'll give it that. The bad: Although well-written, I'd have to say that this book was confusing and went nowhere. It wandered, it hemmed and hawed, it went in circles, and at the end I'm still not sure if it was worth it. I didn't like the characters, really: Sasha was a worrywart and annoying, Pyotr was a stubborn idiot, Uulamets was one-note (and constantly harping on that one note of being a "mean old man who knows magic so you better watch out), and the rusalka was confusing. The "villain" was barely there- I wouldn't even count him as a character. The Result: While not a bad book, I'd only recommend it if you like this author or want to read something about Russian folklore (since there are very few examples out there.) Otherwise, skip it. If you want a good, quick story that explains what a rusalka is, read "Plain Kate."

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adrian Halpert

    I enjoy Russian Mythology and was really happy when I discovered this book by CJ Cherryh. On the whole it is a fun read, with good pacing, interesting characters (for the most part) and a setting that lends itself to a mythical story such as this. The story follows journey of Pyetr and Sasha as they journey into a remote forest filled with magical beings and find safety at the cottage of a wizard who is trying to resurrect his daughter, who has been transformed into a Rusalka. Unfortunately for I enjoy Russian Mythology and was really happy when I discovered this book by CJ Cherryh. On the whole it is a fun read, with good pacing, interesting characters (for the most part) and a setting that lends itself to a mythical story such as this. The story follows journey of Pyetr and Sasha as they journey into a remote forest filled with magical beings and find safety at the cottage of a wizard who is trying to resurrect his daughter, who has been transformed into a Rusalka. Unfortunately for Pyetr, she had taken a liking to him, and he to her. For those not familiar with the Ruslaka myths in Russia, Rusalkas were the ghosts of young women who had died violently, usually by drowning, and drained the life energy of hapless victims to try to hang into their life. Cherryh did a lot of research into Russian mythology and it shows. The forest and its supernatural inhabitants are vividly drawn and create an atmosphere of magic and mystery that are the highlights of this story. The supernatural elements are always there, and we get just enough detail to have a sense of what we're dealing with, but much is not explained, creating an "otherworldly" feel. The characters of Pyetr and Uulamets are also well drawn and interesting. Pyetr is our doubter throughout the story, and it's interesting to watch his character undergo a transformation as he's pulled deeper into his love for Eveshka, the Rusalka. Likewise, Uulamets obsession with resurrecting her and the drama between the two of them, is a lot of fun to follow as it unfolds. Sasha was the let down of this story however. I know he was supposed to be fearful of his growing magical abilities, but he came off as so wishy-washy that after I while I wanted to scream "grow some backbone kid!!". His character is a bit of a hard read. The other thing that did get me a bit was the writing style. The story flowed quite well, but Cherryh's writing was generally flat and felt like a train of thought rather than a well constructed story. There were a number of times when events that should have been dramatic were undercut because she buried them deeply within the texts rather than have it as a cliffhanger at the end of a chapter or even at the beginning of a new paragraph. Overall however, I had fun with this, and I am a bit of sucker for these kinds of stories. Good stuff. 4/5 Stars

  23. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Milewski

    Rusalka (1989), by C.J. Cherryh is not the sort of novel that you'd ask for, but exactly the kind of novel that you alway wanted. Three unreliable protagonists unwillingly join forces, under adverse circumstances, to deal with a rusalka, a ghost. The whole thing is based on Russian folklore which is both its strength, and where it deviates from that folklore, its weakness. The first half of this book is some of the finest fantasy-horror that I've ever read. Shame about the back half, where it los Rusalka (1989), by C.J. Cherryh is not the sort of novel that you'd ask for, but exactly the kind of novel that you alway wanted. Three unreliable protagonists unwillingly join forces, under adverse circumstances, to deal with a rusalka, a ghost. The whole thing is based on Russian folklore which is both its strength, and where it deviates from that folklore, its weakness. The first half of this book is some of the finest fantasy-horror that I've ever read. Shame about the back half, where it loses the mild horror quality (that the supernatural will tear you apart, that you don't understand the supernatural, and you know that you're outclassed), loses direction, and switches genre to action-fantasy instead of Russian folklore. Where the novel should have wrapped up using traditional Russian folklore method for taking out an undefeatable wizard, we get a two page fight scene. I loved the magic system in the book. It's simple, quite deceptively so, but because it's based on human intention, on human thought, it's vulnerable to human limitations and human error. What a wizard wants is what happens, in some form. The more specific that want is, the more reliable, while the less precise, the more unexpected. This, in and of itself, makes the magic in this book interesting and not merely technical. You cannot divorce the magic from the character. I thought the characters varied enough to create their own interesting dynamic, one where they all wanted something, but had reasons to hold back, and also had reasons to mistrust each other. The deeper that they went into the story, the more twisted this became. As the book progresses, other characters appear. Each of these should become important, but as each character appears, they grow shallower, until the final villain is mostly just a notion of a character. Each of these additional characters brought interesting changes and promises, but I feel like most of that potential was wasted. Even with all the flaws, the novel is still a grand read, but it's not the genre redefining novel that it could have been.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ubiquitousbastard

    This is one of those times where I kind of don't like having to rate books on a 1-5 scale. I definitely liked this book more than I like most of the books I rate with 4 stars, but I didn't think it quite met my very strict 5 star standards. 4.5 I suppose, to be fair. In most ways, I really like Cherryh's writing (and I tend to love her characters), but I have to admit that sometimes it gets a little tricky figuring out what's happening. She has a tendency to shift viewpoint abruptly and at times This is one of those times where I kind of don't like having to rate books on a 1-5 scale. I definitely liked this book more than I like most of the books I rate with 4 stars, but I didn't think it quite met my very strict 5 star standards. 4.5 I suppose, to be fair. In most ways, I really like Cherryh's writing (and I tend to love her characters), but I have to admit that sometimes it gets a little tricky figuring out what's happening. She has a tendency to shift viewpoint abruptly and at times I kind of think she shouldn't be switching. So, that is probably the main reason why I couldn't give this five stars like I really almost did. Pretty much everything else about this book was good. I don't know much about Slavic mythology, but I know a bit, so it was nice to kind of get more of that. I tend to hate teenage protagonists, but I really didn't in this case. Most of the time I forgot that Sasha was supposed to be a kid, which is really for the best, my loathing for teenage protagonists being what it is. Cherryh's books tend to get me in a feels trap, and this was of course, exactly that. As a writer, I am plain jealous of her ability to make me feel for characters, especially characters I didn't think I could care about. But I digress. I have to admit, I was less than in love with her female character this time around. She sort of rang hollow to me, which is just bizarre in a Cherryh work, and I pretty much didn't care about her at all. I read this book in one sitting, so it was decently paced and the plot was interesting enough that I didn't want to go do something else instead. I get kind of ADD at the best of times with books, so that I was 3/4 of the way through before my mind began to wander for a few minutes is pretty impressive.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    2.5 stars I wish I could have liked this book, as it can be difficult to find stories that deal with fairies or other traditions outside of British, Greco-Roman, or Norse mythologies. From a technical standpoint, there is nothing wrong with this book. The language is good, even poetic, and has some great imagery. Unfortunately, it also did not hold my attention very well so it was a bit of a push to finish it. I was JUST curious enough to keep going to see how things panned out, but not enough to 2.5 stars I wish I could have liked this book, as it can be difficult to find stories that deal with fairies or other traditions outside of British, Greco-Roman, or Norse mythologies. From a technical standpoint, there is nothing wrong with this book. The language is good, even poetic, and has some great imagery. Unfortunately, it also did not hold my attention very well so it was a bit of a push to finish it. I was JUST curious enough to keep going to see how things panned out, but not enough to want to read more. Out of the two main characters, I kind of liked the boy Sasha, but aside from being a very nice and loyal person, he's kind of bland. His companion Pyetr is mostly annoying throughout the story with few (if any) redeeming features, which makes me wonder why Sasha sticks by him. The "romance" that develops between Pyetr and the rusalka (the banshee-like river ghost of a murdered woman) is love in name only and has no real basis. As for the plot, not much actually happens. They pretty much spend time walking through the wood, staying in a house, then walking through the woods some more. I might not have minded this, except that I didn't care about the characters and the conversations they had were pretty much variations of the same theme ("Should we stay or should we go?"), ad nauseum. The magic system looked like it could have been interesting, since it's based on "wishing" and the unintended consequences that make using magic dangerous. But it quickly becomes so vague and confusing that I no longer knew what was possible, how or why things were happening, or even what the rules were anymore. Needless to say, I don't plan on reading any more books in this series; the first one was quite enough.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katie Galucki

    Based on old Russian folklore, "Rusalka" follows the story of Sasha and Pyetr as they flee their home city after Pyetr is in danger of being accused of witchcraft - Sasha by some bad luck gets caught up in the events of Pyetr's flight. They end up in a dead forest in the home of Uulamets, a wizard who is trying to resurrect the ghost of his murdered daughter Eveshka. Pyetr finds himself falling in love with Eveshka, who is a Rusalka and draws the life force from things around her to gain her pow Based on old Russian folklore, "Rusalka" follows the story of Sasha and Pyetr as they flee their home city after Pyetr is in danger of being accused of witchcraft - Sasha by some bad luck gets caught up in the events of Pyetr's flight. They end up in a dead forest in the home of Uulamets, a wizard who is trying to resurrect the ghost of his murdered daughter Eveshka. Pyetr finds himself falling in love with Eveshka, who is a Rusalka and draws the life force from things around her to gain her power. I really wanted to like this book as I am fascinated by any type of folklore and stories involving magic. But the execution of the narrative is confusing, and I often found myself wondering what was going on. The explanation of how magic works - by wishing - seemed both too simple and too confusing. Apparently this book is the first of a trilogy, but I do not know if I would take the time or effort to find the other books. Especially if they are as convoluted in their storytelling as this one.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    An excellent book at the flavor of medieval Russo-Slavic characterization, it has all the hallmarks of C. J. Cherryh's works with the slow growth of the characters involved when they are placed in a new environment with new rules to living. There is a twist on the standard plot course right at the start that feels just right, and it guides the characters involved into their new life course. Unfortunately, far too much of the book then dwells in this situation where the main characters are isolate An excellent book at the flavor of medieval Russo-Slavic characterization, it has all the hallmarks of C. J. Cherryh's works with the slow growth of the characters involved when they are placed in a new environment with new rules to living. There is a twist on the standard plot course right at the start that feels just right, and it guides the characters involved into their new life course. Unfortunately, far too much of the book then dwells in this situation where the main characters are isolated and and dwelling in uncertainty and second guessing until the very, VERY end of the novel. This too is unfortunately a bit of a common thread in Cherryh's works. The endless vagueness of their circumstances and attempting to find solutions makes everything entirely too gray for too long. Despite this, the ideas and concepts explored by the author are always well written and interesting. I look forwards to getting my hands on the next books in the series.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jen Stutesman

    I wanted to like this book more than I did. From 1989, I found it at a used book sale, and I had read the whole Pride of Chanur series decades ago, and love all kinds of folk tales. Perfect, right? The story is really good, if you cut out the whole middle part. It seems like more than a hundred pages of the main four characters do nothing but bitch, whine, plead and complain. Lots of that, but no explanation as to why they need to make this long trek through the gnarly forest, no explanatory back I wanted to like this book more than I did. From 1989, I found it at a used book sale, and I had read the whole Pride of Chanur series decades ago, and love all kinds of folk tales. Perfect, right? The story is really good, if you cut out the whole middle part. It seems like more than a hundred pages of the main four characters do nothing but bitch, whine, plead and complain. Lots of that, but no explanation as to why they need to make this long trek through the gnarly forest, no explanatory background to fill in the questions the reader might have, nothing but bitching, complaining and arguing with each other, followed by each character's lengthy thought process about leaving, what theu would do if they left, and what might happen. Like a dysfunctional codependent family, each decides to stay, and the cirlce turns another revolution. Skip it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katya

    This fantasy novel is based on Russian folklore: two young men and an old wizard are trying to return to life wizard's daughter who suffered a violent death (or a suicide) and was turned into a rusalka - a creature living next to water and feeding off men she could seduce. The connection to the Russian folklore (and/or culture in general) is quite feeble, i actually do not understand why it was needed at all. Most of the book the characters are bickering about the most trivial things in a most i This fantasy novel is based on Russian folklore: two young men and an old wizard are trying to return to life wizard's daughter who suffered a violent death (or a suicide) and was turned into a rusalka - a creature living next to water and feeding off men she could seduce. The connection to the Russian folklore (and/or culture in general) is quite feeble, i actually do not understand why it was needed at all. Most of the book the characters are bickering about the most trivial things in a most irritating manner. When they are not bickering the plot actually moves quite interestingly.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Swift-Wood

    What I love about this book and its sequels is the world. The forest is so real and so appealing and mixing it with the lore of old Russia and the unpredictable, paranoid magic of the wizards really pushes you to keep reading. I am also very fond of the 'family' dynamic that develops across the books, showing real multi-way relationships between different characters rather than the usual jealousies or fights. The only real critique I'd have of this and the books that follow is that they rush thei What I love about this book and its sequels is the world. The forest is so real and so appealing and mixing it with the lore of old Russia and the unpredictable, paranoid magic of the wizards really pushes you to keep reading. I am also very fond of the 'family' dynamic that develops across the books, showing real multi-way relationships between different characters rather than the usual jealousies or fights. The only real critique I'd have of this and the books that follow is that they rush their endings, which left me a little dissatisfied.

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