Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Secret History of Moscow

(Amazon, Barnes & Noble)

I first saw this book recommended by Pat Rothfuss on his blog. He said it was a very interesting book so I grabbed it the next time I was in a bookstore. Larry of the OF Blog of the Fallen has done a review of the book as well.
Galina, a young woman living with her mother and sister in post-Soviet Moscow, witnesses her sister turning into a jackdaw and fly away. The incident prompts her to join Yakov, a policeman investigating a rash of disappearances. In their search, they discover that every city contains secret places and that Moscow of the chaotic 1990’s is no different. For those who don’t fit in on the surface, the underworld of Moscow is a place of wonder and belonging. However, something is causing the two worlds to mix and Galina and Yakov must join with the various exiled denizens to discover the truth.
The Secret History of Moscow clocks in at barely more than three hundred pages and Sedia wastes no time in getting the story started. The plot moves forward fairly quickly, yet I never felt it was rushed. Sedia’s “secret place” is a little bit different than the normal view of the underworld and I like its fascinating mix of death, refuge, and myth. Short segments exploring the history of Moscow intersperse the main story and remind me of Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales, albeit less intricate and more central to the plot.
I had very few complaints on this book. The story is extremely condensed; Sedia tells her story and gets out. I might have hoped for a little more of the background and feel of Moscow, but it works quite for the story Sedia is telling. There is nothing particularly original nor surprising about the plot, howver, Sedia does a very good job of telling it and making it interesting. Definitely recommended.
Rating: 8/10.


Larry said...

Glad to see that you enjoyed the book :D In regards to the wish that more had been said about the city's history, that is something that I did ask Sedia in the interview we're working on now and she does explain that it was a conscious decision based on her preference that an author ought to risk saying too little rather than saying too much. But there is also a question in reference to the specific historical eras and she does go into a slight bit of detail about the Decembrist Revolt, which is quite fascinating to read about, by the way.

Benjamin said...

I'll look forward to reading her interview.