Beginning with the first book, The Bear and the Nightingale, this beautiful fantasy trilogy is set in a version of medieval Russia in which history and myth coexist. In Witch yet more characters from Russian folklore are woven in as fiery heroine, Vasya, faces the foes of Moscow, Rus', and humanity... whether the powers that be are behind her or not.
I recommend reading this dark, mystical book on a chilly night (forecast looks promising) — but only after finishing the first two in the trilogy!
Like much great fiction, Laurus compresses a particular vision of human life into the person of a flawed but worthy individual. Here are moments of intense horror, of joy, and of despair. During periods when existence seems to have stalled for our hero--that nothing will ever again improve or change--the reader is led into transcendent meditation and reflection on Time and on the soul's dreadful-and-glorious progress. It is no small bonus that this book is free of trendy political and social agendas and is oblivious to what Owen Barfield termed "chronological snobbery" (the imperious disdain which modernity showers on the "ignorant" past). Finally, this is one of a precious few books which has reinforced my sense that Time is neither linear nor cyclical, but spiraling -- curved in its horizontal direction, but always with an inevitable, vertical tension.
This is a book that stays with you long after the enormous length of time time that you’ll spend reading it. Not content to merely rival the classics of Russian literature with an epic account of the idealism and ultimate tragedy of the Bolshevik Revolution, Slezkine bores deeply into the Bolsheviks' attempts to create a new socialist society by attacking bourgeois art, fashion, and fitted kitchens.