publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
release date: September 1st, 2009
paperback, 310 pages
intended audience: Young adult
description: Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn't. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.
In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn't know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college—until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…
Review: This book was a total surprise to me. I've always been intrigued by the mystery of Anastasia and this completely turned the story on its head and added a new fantastical twist. I was not expecting this one to be as spine-tingling as it was. Strangely, I had heard of the witch Baba Yaga, but never actually heard her story, and let me tell you...it completely freaked me out. The thought of this decrepit old creepy witch with her gigantic detachable hands that would go out and do her devious bidding was enough to have me slapping the book closed until my shivers died down. In this story,those creepy hands swooped in and took Anastasia away from the massacre of her family, but Baba Yaga has held her captive for nearly 100 years and everyone involved in the mystery has been made immortal until the day when a mystery girl will come to her rescue.
Anne made for a really interesting protagonist. She is just a regular teen, trying to do well in school and studying ballet. She has a good head on her shoulders, and while being a little less outspoken than her best friend, Tess, she has a good confident voice. I love her first reactions to her encounters with Ethan. Instead of being one of those girls that swoons when she sees any hot guy staring at her incessantly and continually keeps popping up where ever she is, she thinks to herself "why can't I be approached by someone normal? Why do I get this guy who stares at me and seems to be a stalker." Not her exact words, but you get the idea. It takes her awhile to be convinced that the magical things happening to her are real, but when she does, she goes at it head on!
Tess was a good supporting character, an excellent best friend to Anna. She was tough and persistent and refused to be left out of the loop if it meant standing by Anna, even when she knew it might be dangerous. She was also funny and witty, a good balance to the intensity of the story.
The point of view goes back and forth between Anne and Ethan with a few interjections from Anastasia. While most of the time this worked really well and it was perfect to be able to get Ethan's side of the action, a few times (just a very few, really) their voices were not distinct enough from each other and I would forget whose POV I was currently in. It didn't take away from the story, though.
I did take one cupcake away for "presentation", I guess you would call it. In certain parts of this book, Anastasia is writing to her deceased family members. These sections were printed in a script font that was very near to being illegible. I came to actually dread getting to these sections! Her letters did impart some important information pertaining to the storyline, but the struggle to decipher the fancy font was enough to make the story feel like it was dragging.
Despite that, I loved this one. It was exciting and adventurous, and definitely chilling at times! A perfect, magical twist on the Anastasia legend!
The next installment is due out in February. I have it here and I can't wait to start it! The cover is just as gorgeous as the first, and this time around there will be a malevolent mermaid involved!! Sounds amazing!
Visit Joy Preble's website here!