Sometimes I love a book so much I feel compelled to read it over again. When this happens I oftentimes feel a bit let down and get upset with myself. That I ruined a great book with a reread.
For me, very few books are as good the second time around. Having said that I have a few I read over and over again (TKaM, TNotW, TWMF and PiL). Each time I read them I love them. Never did I love them more the second time around…I loved them as much…or nearly as much…but never more…
Despite having books I love during a reread, I can’t ever recall a feeling like I’ve had reading this novel for the second time. When I first read this book I knew instantly that it was a 5 star read for me and that I loved it. With the second book coming out soon I wanted to refresh the story in my mind…So I once again went deep into the Rus’ forest at winter…
Once I started it again…well…magic happened. The first time I loved the story. The second time, I knew the story and I fell in love with the storytelling. I honestly loved it more than I did the first time. I must be getting old (hell, I AM getting old!!!!) but at times I just wanted to cry…for no other reason than I loved what I was reading.
It’s like looking over at your spouse sitting on the couch, and feeling a tug at the heartstrings and an overwhelming feeling of love…suddenly the emotions well up and you have a huge lump in your throat…that’s what happened to me whilst reading this book.
The only issue I have is that…well….I have wanted to start the second book for months now…I opened the cover (I received an ARC months before it’s release) but I was worried I wouldn’t love it as much…I’ve had friends read it and tell me it’s just as fantastic…I can’t explain it, but I am really scared to read it! I thought rereading this one would fix that problem…but now I am terrified…
I really enjoyed this novel. The first thing that caught my eye was the cover…If the cover wasn’t enough once I read the title I knew I had to read it. A couple of my book mates pointed out that the cover was too much like The Goldfinch. However, I didn’t care, I loved it, damnit. Then the small blurbs on the cover! They had me even more intrigued than the name and the cover did. Reading those couple of little bits on the front cover had me wondering…
What happens once we are gone. Who remembers our stories? Who will discover the parts of our lives we never shared? Once we are gone does it even matter? Or is that when it matters most?
I have to say that now that I’ve finished it, I was exactly right. And that is why I loved this book so much. No it’s not really a mystery…I figured out pretty quickly what was going on. But I’m not sure that mattered at all. It certainly didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.
After reading this novel I still am having conversations with myself. I wonder if how well we know those prominent in our life shape most of who we are. If we find out that we actually don’t know them as well as we first believed does that change who we are?
I am also left wondering who suffers the most when we keep part of our lives in the dark. When we, for whatever reasons, can’t be who we are completely in the light of day…well who suffers the most? The person that is hiding part of themselves, the loved ones that really have no clue who their loved ones are? Or is it, perhaps, the people in the shadows that are forced to live there to be with the ones they love?
When I leave a book with these types of questions…well, for me it’s a great day….books like these are why I live to read…sure, I had a few issues with the novel. But at the end of the day, it was thought-provoking. So few books these day are. There are also some really beautiful passages in this novel. Ones I felt compelled to share with others…
Perhaps my favourite quote from the novel:
My mother taught me to read. Not the mechanics of reading – no memorising of tricky words or how to sound out letters – she left all that to my teachers. The lesson she taught mew as a more enduring one. She showed me that it was possible to withdraw into literature: to find your place in a dream-rapt landscape. Her shelves at home were heavy with Victorian and twentieth-century novels, and Hardy was the weightiest of all; Tess of the d’Urbervilles was almost always splayed open by her bedside, where she nightly dipped in and out of Tess’s story. The tragedy of a young girl wronged by parent and man became a sort of talisman for her own life.
This is going to be (no going to be…IT IS….) a wonderful series.
If I have one complaint on this one, it’s that Ally is a bit too perfect to be believable for me.
I am also finding out that I am struggling to stay in the present when what I really want is more of the stories we have of the past. It was the same in book 1. However, it was very noticeable in this novel, as I just didn’t connect with Ally like I wanted to. Perhaps it was that so much was going on in Ally’s own story that I felt disjointed. Really, though, I just don’t think I liked her much. That saddens me to say that, as I don’t want to put anyone off of this series. I still loved this novel! It is well worth the time to read these books. They are long books! Don’t despair though, there is much going on, but they won’t leave you lost…if anything they leave you wishing for more!
I can already tell that the wait between each book is going to drive me MAD!!!! I so want to get into the other sister’s stories! Hints are being dropped all over the place! There are so many things I want answers to!!!
I can honestly say I didn’t see the ending and then the epilogue coming. That doesn’t happen often. I can’t say I was shocked. I just didn’t see it coming.
If I had to find fault there are a couple of points that I think a good editor would correct. They just didn’t make sense. They might be minor details, but still, they were glaringly amiss for me and really bothered me.
However, once I started this novel I had a hard time putting it down. At first I just kept thinking that this would be a great novel for older teens. It would keep them engaged and hopefully some valuable life lessons could be seen. As I read I found myself not even thinking of the audience it could engage, as I was enjoying the novel more than I even expected, despite the couple of flaws that bothered me.
No the characters weren’t perfect. However, what 18 – 20-year-old is? Or, as this novel points out, what adult or parent is for that matter?
I have no problem at all as seeing this as a runaway hit when it’s finally released.
This review pretty much sucks, but in my defence, I’m really still a bit shell-shocked from the ending and I’m not at all sure how I feel about the whole thing…Despite that, I didn’t find it that it was done for shock value. I found it very true to the characters. Yes, both *surprises*…
10,000 stars!!!! I am speechless. Wow. What a wonderful magical fantastic novel!
How does one review a book that you absolutely love and manage to do it the justice it deserves? One where you get to 40% and can’t put it down. One where you have 20 pages left and tell your husband to shut up and leave you alone when he reminds you that it’s bedtime. One that after reading you’re so hyped up you can’t possibly sleep, even thought it’s past 11 pm and you have a full day of work to do the next day.
If I had to complain about anything, it’s that at the start it is a bit confusing with the children’s names. They have their given name, but also the names their family calls them and they go by. I also struggled with some of the Russian vocabulary, but soon discovered that there was a glossary in the back. I soon got over these bits and had no issues at all following along.
There is so much here to review. So I will just tell you again, that I loved this book. Every single bit of it. The family. The fairytale. The spirits that Vasilisa cares for. Even the Winter Demon. I love these old folklore stories and they all came to life in this book. Please, give this novel a chance. It will go down as an all time favourite of mine. Seriously. Top 5 lifetime reads.
What I find very interesting is that the step mother and Vasilisa are from the same bloodline and although they are much alike, their attitude it what separates and divides them. One refuses to accept what is before their very eyes, the other one does. This attitude makes all the difference to themselves, but also to everyone in the village.
Man, this is truly a Midlevel Russian Fairytale. Go satisfy that child within your heart, the heart that longs for a good old-fashioned story…where good and bad clash….where you’re too scared to breathe and too afraid to not go on…where you have to pause to build your courage and you close your eyes at the truly scary parts and cheer for the really happy parts….go curl up to a warm fire on a snowy night, make yourself a hot drink and some fresh cookies, find a warm and fluffy blanket and curl up with this book. I can’t imagine a better way to spend any night…Seriously….the best…
I guess I’m one of those people who don’t really mind fan-fiction. Hell, I guess I’m just not smart enough to see it in most books. Maybe because I’m not obsessed with many writings. Or maybe I think we all take inspiration from where we can get it, so I don’t really often see fan-fiction as a knockoff. Some people act like it’s a terrible thing and cheating. Other’s can’t get enough of it. I’ve never been bothered either way. If anything I should think it would be an honour. At the end of the day there are very few original concepts out there…and even then the artists still got their inspiration from somewhere!
Starting this book was like an eye opener. Two chapters in and I was like, “oh shite, I’m not sure I will like this.” I mean it was so obviously “The Breakfast Club”. I was like, “really? are you freaking serious?”
But then again, growing up in the 80’s who can’t say that TBC wasn’t just, the be all, end all of everything 80’s. Who doesn’t love that movie?
Then I got over it, and the book progressed. I won’t say I was shocked at the ending. Or surprised. I won’t say I had it all figured out, but I had a pretty good idea of what happened, just not how all the players tied in together.
At the ending, I wasn’t left feeling cheated. I didn’t feel the author took shortcuts or intentionally mislead.
I wasn’t blown away by it, but I did enjoy it once the novel moved on from TBC type feel. I did go back and forth about which character I liked best (this isn’t a bad thing!). I enjoyed them all. I could also relate to them all (just like in TBC). I wanted good things to happen for all of them.
If this is what McManus has to show us in her debut novel, I seriously can’t wait to see what her next one will be like.
I bought this book when it was first announced as an Oprah Book Club® Selection in 2001. I picked it up more than a few times and tried to read it. I just couldn’t get in to it. When I first bought a kindle in 2011, I again tried to read this novel…still couldn’t get into it. Picked it up again in 2016…you guessed it…STILL couldn’t get far…well if you don’t know me, it’s time you know…I’m hard headed. I’ve had so many of my mates tell me this is the best book ever…Every time I cried about giving up once again on reading the book I would have yet one more person tell me to try again. I became determined to finish this book…if only to ease the guilt I felt of letting other people that loved the book down.
FINALLY!!!!! I finished the book this year. I’m glad I finished it…now I can move on and put this troubled relationship behind me. I mean, seriously, it’s been over 15 years of me asking for fulfilment and getting nothing in return except wasted space and gathering dust…
The first 2/3 of the book continued to piss me off in more ways than I thought were possible. Every time something else happened I found my blood pressure building. However, the last 1/3 of the book was simply marvellous and I loved it so very much.
Does this review make you unsure how to proceed? Well, I don’t know what else to say except that you’ll have to deal with it and come to terms so you too can move on with your life…