Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Secret History of Moscow

By Ekaterina Sedia.

When Galina's sister turns into a jackdaw after giving birth in the bathroom and flies away, Galina joins a policeman and a street artist to find her sister. (The policeman wants to find answers.) They fall underground through a reflection in a puddle and run into various persons who all turn out to be helpful, at least after they manage to tell their own stories.

Despite the poignant and disturbing ending, this book seems more like a patchwork of Russian myths and allusions to Russian myths (without explanations) than a cohesive story. Almost every chapter focuses on a different character's personal history, and somehow the plot gets lost in between—we never get a satisfactory explanation for why people were being turned into birds. I'm not sure even a sequel would redeem this one, although the ending might make a good prologue to a different book, but I think the author does show promise. Someone to keep an eye on, at least.

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