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The Secret History of Moscow by [Sedia, Ekaterina]
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The Secret History of Moscow Kindle Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 645 KB
  • Print Length: 311 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Prime Books (16 Dec. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004GKNLOC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #397,638 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really wanted to like The Secret History of Moscow more than I eventually did. It has all of the ingredients to be a genuinely outstanding story, and the author has a deftness of touch with the prose that promises very much to blend those ingredients into something sumptuous. Along the way though, all that gets lost - the pacing is off, the characterisation for most (save the key protagonist) is slim to non-existent, the character arcs across the board are unsatisfying. The character motivations are shallow and worn on their sleeves, lacking subtlety. The story seems to meander, focusing more on a series of disconnected narrative spectacles - an exploration of a world that seems like it could be fascinating, but is painted in such broad strokes that it's just frustrating. That's maybe the key thing about the book - it's frustrating. With a few tweaks it could have been good. With a tighter focus on the story, it could have been great. With a more diligent drawing out of the characters, it could have been exceptional. As it is, it's just *okay*, and it could so easily have been so much more. It's a book I could genuinely have loved if it had just been a little bit better executed.

That said, the ending of the book is genuinely moving in a way that took me by surprise given how lukewarm I was about the book, and in was in many ways enough by itself to justify the time I spent reading the rest of it. The ending is handled in exactly the way that would have made the rest of the book as great as it had the promise to be.
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Format: Paperback
I finished this on Friday. It's engaging, but it comes from an aspect of the Moscow mindset that seems to be unremittingly dour. It starts there and ends there, and even the flashes of humour along the way are of the grim "shared suffering" variety.

Sedia writes well and draws the reader into her world, like a wise and kindly woman offering to share her shawl on a November afternoon, but several times on the journey I paused to wonder why I was still walking with her, and when we reached our destination I was glad to emerge from the bleakness.

So, why am I reviewing it, when I only review novels that impress the hell out of me?

Well, it's because this book impressed the hell out of me. Yes, it's downbeat. And, yes, if you're looking for a light, fun, sexy read, I'd suggest you look elsewhere.

But it's a strong story that stayed with me over the weekend and into Monday. Often, I close one book and open the next on the same day, but not in this case. The Secret History of Moscow is still fermenting in my mind now, three days after I finished reading it.

Sedia is a brave and honest writer. She could have lightened this story up in any number of places, but she stayed true to her world in which people and their gods stand bowed but resolute under the oppression of land and climate and years. And those flashes of gallows humour? They stand out in my memory like bright steady lights shining from a wooded hillside at night. They're real.

There's a terrible beauty in the history of Moscow, but Sedia doesn't describe it. She writes from within it - as the people of her world live within it, and often in spite of it - and so it shines from the core of her story.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was an enjoyable and interesting book. It has a very intriguing premise.

The writing style is nicely relaxed. It has the feel of a somewhat dark and disturbing fairytale.

I don't really know that much about Moscow and I found the background and the mythical creatures and characters to be very interesting.
I rarely say this about a book these days but I wish it had been slightly longer as I felt that at times it became a bit rushed especially towards the end.

I appreciated the way that it was slightly more downbeat and certainly less sentimental then a similar book set in Western Europe would have been.
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Format: Paperback
Some compare this to Gaiman's Neverwhere, but this is quite different, I think, even if this too is kind of an urban fantasy where people go to an ... underground world. What I loved best in this book was all the Russian mythology, of which I know shamefully little - though it was fun to spot some familiar things. (Actually, the only reason I recognized some characters etc, like e.g Koshchey the Deathless, was because I've got one single fairytale by Eduard Uspensky. Pathetic.)

Anyway, this is a pretty good book - not excellent or anything, but worth reading if you happen to get this into your hands. Some people seem to be annoyed at the way the author keeps on interrupting the story: every time a new character is introduced, the story of his or her life is also told. But. At one point I started to get the feeling that _this_ in fact is the "secret history of Moscow", these stories of small people who otherwise wouldn't get their voice heard, who, behind the brilliant Russian/Soviet coulisse are not living so wonderful lives. This isn't just fantasy, but also offers an interesting look into the everyday life in Russia/Soviet Union.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book expecting a similar quality to Neil Gaiman. I was a little disappointed. The potential was there but there seemed to be no "meat" to the story.

It was a good read - a little fantasy injected into the normal world, some unlikely heroes & strange characters finding them selves working together. A familiar theme but one which wasnt explored in enough detail.

A light version of a Neil Gaiman story. Worth a read and I would purchase more by the same author but I am not squealing about it!
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