It is a fascinating blend of history, magic and drama with religion, politics and family dynamics thrown in. Arden balances the old world's magic and the new world's religion well, and treats each seriously or at least with a sense of history. The characters have depth and personality even when they are not central focus.
Tag - magical realism
I found it to be a fascinating and enchanting read/listen; a truly epic tale of life in the north where magic and religion still live side by side. I don't know enough about the Russian fairy tales and legends to know how closely this tracks with them, but I found it engrossing and suspenseful; full of history, family life, religious conflict and fantastical folklore.
It moves from the interior thoughts and emotions of its characters to the historic events that surround them, to the interaction of people across social, cultural and language boundaries, all while sucking you into this gripping story of a fantastical expedition and its impact on both the future and the lives of a young marriage.
While it was a quick, quirky and largely enjoyable read, it was also odd and ephemeral. Perhaps if you were more plugged into classical and international literature, or more obsessed with formal book collecting, the references and name dropping would mean more or deepen the story.
An interesting mix of family dynamics and mystical Jewish legends. If you like a blend of relationships and magical realism through the lens of Jewish mysticism you will enjoy this creative novel.
There are some powerful stories and some great writing but the attempt to bring it all together failed to a degree that undermines much of what preceded.
Who knows what you call it. But it is engaging, entertaining, often thought provoking and for $3 a real steal.