Monday, March 18, 2013
GIVEAWAY & REVIEW: Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison
St. Petersburg, 1917. After Rasputin's body is pulled from the icy waters of the Neva River, his eighteen-year-old daughter, Masha, is sent to live at the imperial palace with Tsar Nikolay and his family. Desperately hoping that Masha has inherited Rasputin's healing powers, Tsarina Alexandra asks her to tend to her son, the headstrong prince Alyosha, who suffers from hemophilia. Soon after Masha arrives at the palace, the tsar is forced to abdicate, and the Bolsheviks place the royal family under house arrest. As Russia descends into civil war, Masha and Alyosha find solace in each other's company. To escape the confinement of the palace, and to distract the prince from the pains she cannot heal, Masha tells him stories - some embellished and others entirely imagined - about Nikolay and Alexandra's courtship, Rasputin's exploits, and their wild and wonderful country, now on the brink of an irrevocable transformation. In the worlds of their imagination, the weak become strong, legend becomes fact, and a future that will never come to pass feels close at hand.
OMG! Historical fiction is where its at! Seriously, who doesn't love a book that creatively mashes up history and fiction? I know I do. I love me some good storytelling that revolves around Russia, Rasputin, and the Romanovs.
So, what did I love about this book? Everything! The writing was excellent - beyond what I expected (of course I've never read Harrison before, so I really wasn't so sure what to expect). And the story was superb - a wonderful combination of love story mixed in with some creatively embellished history. I absolutely fell in love with Harrison's book, Enchantments!
What is this fantastic story about? Well, its about a young woman named Masha and the tales she tells to a young boy named Alyosha. Rasputin is found murdered and his two daughters are taken in by the Romanov family - a promise they made in exchange for his loyalty and help. Masha is one of these two daughters, and it is believed by the Tsarina Alexandra that she too can heal, just as her father Rasputin once did. Of course, truth be told, Masha has no special abilities akin to her father's - her only special power is the gift of storytelling. Armed with her memories and creative mind, she finds herself spinning yarn after yarn to the prince, Alyosha, as the world around them falls apart. Inevitably, the two become rather close. However, their story ends once the Romanovs are taken to be executed. From that point on we are left with Masha's personal journey - how she wound up traveling the world and became a performer. We do get a brief glimpse into Alyosha's personal thoughts of Masha, his family, and their fate, via a few of his journal entries. I found this inclusion to be a nice touch that added another layer to the story.
Filled with vivid descriptions, fascinating characters, a re-imagined history, and an engaging narrator made this book a thrilling read. It truly epitomized what a great historical fiction novel should be. Kathryn Harrison has created a gem of a book - an unputdownable must-read. I would most definitely recommend this novel to anyone and everyone who loves to read about the Romanov family, historical fiction, and Russia - you will not be disappointed!
GIVEAWAY: Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher, one copy of Enchantments is up for grabs! All you have to do is leave me a comment - don't forget to include your email address (in case you win, I need to contact you). Last day to enter will be March 25th. Open to US and Canada residents only. Good luck!!
TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this fantastic novel!