I picked up The Year of Miracle and Grief, by Leonid Borodin, for two reasons only:
- It had a very pretty cover.
- I needed a book from Russia, and Anna Karenina is really long.
So it was kind of a gamble. I mean, I usually flip through a book in the store to make sure I like the writing style and it’s not going to be sexually explicit, but aside from that, I knew absolutely nothing about this book when I picked it up. So please believe me when I say that everybody should read this book. It’s now one of my favorites.
The story follows a young boy who moves to a small town in Siberia, makes friends, gets in trouble—all the typical “coming-of-age book about a young boy” stuff. (Okay, Siberia isn’t typical, but you get the drift.) But then this boy climbs up a mountain, discovers a mean, ancient witch, and spends half the book trying to free a princess who’s been trapped in a cave for the past several thousand years.
It’s an adventure, a fantasy, and a coming-of-age story, but without the sappy ending that usually accompanies those. It ends up being sort of fantastic realism (but doesn’t necessarily fall under the umbrella of magical realism, either.) And the writing. Oh, the writing is so beautiful. I never thought anybody could convince me that Siberia could be a beautiful place, but Borodin, you have struck my heart.
It’s a great book, and I would probably recommend it to any age group. Go read it. You’ll thank me. ♦