Read for the RIP V Reading Challenge.
Galina, Yakov, and Fyodor all live in Moscow, and are all broken in one way or another. For Yakov, it’s a failed marriage. For Fyodor, it’s fear – fear that has kept him living on the streets. And Galina has been hospitalized a number of times for schizophrenia. She’s no good, but at least she has her younger sister, Masha, who unlike everyone else in the world, has always accepted Galina as she is.
The story begins when Masha, heavily pregnant, disappears, leaving her newborn son behind. Galina sees a jackdaw leave the scene, and as she frantically ties to find Masha, hears more tales of people disappearing, and birds appearing after they’re gone. She and Yakov, a cop, find Fyodor, who thinks he has seen that these people have become the birds, and they’ve disappeared to somewhere else. The three take a leap of faith, and find themselves Underground.
Underground is where the lost people of Moscow have found their way to for centuries – a purgatory where they live, undying and un-aging amongst the myths and legendary figures of ancient Russia. But something is threatening the Underground, and the myths and legends must band together with Galina, Yakov and Fyodor to find this danger and eliminate it.
I really enjoyed this book. The stories of the people Underground painted such an interesting picture of Russian life (a subject I’m not afraid to admit I know very little about). It’s a very atmospheric, broody tale, and the ending was so very perfect for the story. Definitely a different read if you’d like to branch outside standard Western fantasy.