This is not just an intriguing and captivating detective novel that readers of all ages will find interesting, but a genuine historical immersion into time itself.
The young heroine, who has lost everyone close to her, even the ones she never met, feels the connection with those dead and gone and enters a deadly confrontation with the murderer. She cannot ask her friends, who sincerely love her, for help. Only she alone can learn the truth and destroy the maniac.
With every twist of the fascinating story, with every cut-off lock of hair, the fragile sixteen year old girl with a long braid becomes a fiercer warrior, breaking all stereotypes and obstacles in her way. She runs along the blade of a razor whilst the reader is kept in unremitting suspense throughout the entire novel.
Sasha is leading a real psychological war-investigation, a cruel and uncompromising game with death. She intentionally exposes herself to yet another deadly blow. She is killed, but she escapes the endless traps again and again, growing stronger every time, breaking her inner obstacles, striving for her complex goal, which she must achieve in order to save the lives of others and learn the truth.
The time of the Soviet Union has still not come to an end with its pioneer camps, the deficit, naivety or permissiveness for those in power. The story takes place in an elite pioneer camp not far from a closed off Siberian town, which were in abundance at the time but not much was known about them even then. Together with the heroes, the reader immerses himself into the history of the country that is hardly remembered today, but because of this the events described in detail by the witness become even more interesting and intriguing. The junior and sports camps that have spread across the wide channel of Yenisei and Mana, the enchanting nature of Siberia and the famous Red Pillars are where the story takes place. But who deprived Sasha of her family and home back in 1954? How are the mysterious Old Believers, who served the White Mother, along with their belief in Gelen Amu connected to the KGB clean-up operations and the uranium mines? What is the bond between little Sasha, who lost her mother and grandfather under enigmatic circumstances, and her grandfather’s sister, her copy, and those innocent young women who had been dying over the past thirty years yet were never found?
“In the sense of genre, it is a Matryoshka-novel – it has everything and all is played out. Easy to red ‘until dawn’ without pausing. A poignant story from the point of view of a sixteen year old soviet pioneer girl, it’s a detective, mystical thriller with elements of mysticism, but the special interest is not from the horror plot itself but from the heroine. The narrator’s distinctive view of the world, in contrast to the collapse of the soviet reality, looks like an explicable crisis of self-identity, that was characteristic to the post-Perestroika years in the late 80’s not only for the teenagers but for the entire society. But here the story calls to another epoch, which, with the intonation of a family saga, is observed as the link to all the lines that are scattered in time. The subtext creates a different immersion and tension, discernible from adventures, where it is not the denouement that matters, but what has been said. The language of the book changes like frames, from slang to spatial. The atmosphere of time is filled with details of the day-to-day life from the soviet symbols to the taiga landscapes. The bare disposition of the party elites, the closed territories and the special pioneer life against the still maintained soviet traditions; they all intertwine in plot mysteries, the denouement of which already echoes as with the upcoming catastrophe – the collapse of the great country. And the format of the novel is merely a substratum for the expression of the real drama of the lost generation.”
“The book is disguised as quick entertainment: the detective plot keeps the reader in the required suspense, and the denouement is just the way it has to be – modern and complex. But all the market games must be pushed aside. It is a question of time. It is the final year of the Soviet Union in its traditional sense, and you realise that the slogans and compulsory party events are all that remained from socialism, but all the values and hopes have long been destroyed. Nobody believed anything, nobody was taught to believe in God, and there was no more faith in communism that never succeeded. Everything was destroyed and it was like a feast before the catastrophe. Everyone knew that it was inevitable, so they did god-knows-what, and the story strongly gives an account of that. But we observe the events with the eyes of a suddenly grown-up child, who is flatly not ready to accept what she had seen as reality. She doesn’t need nor can she bear a reality like this, and neither can anybody else. But the adults are absolutely not ready to give up their easy permissiveness. This was where the conflict arose, and it’s so real – not pulp – and everything is too real, especially the nature and essence of the taiga. The excessiveness is reflected at all levels, but it’s like colours on a painting that draw not the reality but the experience of what had been seen.”
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