The Five Daughters of the Moon
It’s exciting to me to see how many authors are out there writing Russian-themed fantasy. “The Five Daughters of the Moon” is a recent addition to this sub-genre.
The setting is clearly an allusion to the Russian Empire just prior to the 1917 Revolution, but the setting and the plot are just that: allusions. Readers familiar with the history of the period will enjoy seeing a story that is recognizable but not merely a rehash of what actually happened. There’s a Rasputin figure and an embattled monarch with five daughters, although in this case the monarch is an Empress, and there’s no Tsarevich Aleksey. There’s a workers’ revolution that appears in danger of going badly awry, and a long train ride through the snow–all the things one would hope for in a retelling of this tale.
However, there’s also a unique system of magic, that the author only touches on in this, the first book in the duology. Power appears to come from capturing the souls of living beings, and also from the moon (the divine father of the Empress’s five daughters), and there’s witchcraft as well.
All in all, this is an enjoyable addition to the contemporary fantasy genre, as well as the subgenre of “Russian-esque fantasy.” It lacks the epic intensity and the downright weirdness of actual Russian literature, but its stripped-down style is likely to appeal more to many Western readers than the real deal. This first book ends at an exciting moment, so we can hope that we will not have to wait long for the second book to come out and bring the story to a conclusion–although we might think we know how this all plays out, there’s enough different in this story from the actual story of Rasputin and the Romanovs to leave us guessing until the end.
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