In this modern literary folktale set in Tsarist Russia, we meet young Elena, who lives an impoverished life in the countryside, and Ekaterina, a girl whose life is filled with a wealth of riches on a luxury train. Maguire, the author of Wicked, weaves an intricate and playful tale rich in imagery, truly making this an escapist novel. Recommended By Kim T., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
In this tour de force, master storyteller Gregory Maguire offers a dazzling novel for fantasy lovers of all ages.
Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. One of her brothers has been conscripted into the Tsars army, the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food. But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg — a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena's age. When the two girls lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and — in a starring role only Gregory Maguire could have conjured — Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs.
"An ambitious, Scheherazade-ian novel, rather like a nesting-doll set of stories, that succeeds in capturing some of the complexities of both Russia and life itself." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Although Cat and Elena's burgeoning friendship and determination make for a heartening story, it's Maguire's Baba Yaga, full of irreverent anachronisms and a salty attitude, who steals the show....Maguire's fantastical world is filled with Russian folklore and history, particularly the growing unrest that eventually led to the October Revolution, and...the whimsical tone and lush setting are...plenty appealing." Booklist
About the Author
Gregory Maguire is the author of the incredibly popular books in the Wicked Years series, including Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, which inspired the musical. He is also the author of several books for children, including What-the-Dickens, a New York Times bestseller. Gregory Maguire lives outside Boston.