Rusalka: I didn’t like it

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews C.J. Cherryh RusalkaRusalka by C.J. Cherryh

I like folklore, and I like novels based on folklore, and I was prepared to like C.J. Cherryh‘s Rusalka, especially after seeing it reviewed elsewhere. It did hold my attention long enough that I was able to finish it, but in the end I had to admit that I didn’t like it.

First gripe: the endless and tedious scenes of Pyetr, Sasha, and Uulamets wandering around in the woods acting like jerks to one another. Pages upon pages of one of the characters musing about what morons the other two are. The use of the word “woodcraft” on what seems like every page, as Sasha or Pyetr admires Uulamets’ skill in navigating the forest. It begins to feel like we are reading the same chapter over and over after a while.

But that’s the little gripe. The big one is what seems like a big continuity mistake. It’s a spoiler, so highlight the following text if you want to read it: About a third of the way into the book, a false Eveshka is brought to life by Uulamets’ magic. He was trying to resurrect his dead daughter, but instead resurrected a version of her who was as he wanted her to be rather than as she really was. Now, Pyetr never had sexual or romantic feelings about Eveshka until this false Eveshka showed up; it was then that he started noticing her beauty. BUT… later, Pyetr claims that he knew all along that the Eveshka look-alike was a fake, and all of a sudden he is in love with the real one. Why? He wasn’t in love with the real one before — He was annoyed by her until he met the fake one. I don’t think I understand. [end spoiler]


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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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