Published by Prime Books
Every city contains secret places. Moscow in the tumultuous 1990s is no different, its citizens seeking safety in a world below the streets -- a dark, cavernous world of magic, weeping trees, and albino jackdaws, where exiled pagan deities and faerytale creatures whisper strange tales to those who would listen. Galina is a young woman caught, like her contemporaries, in the seeming lawlessness of the new Russia. In the midst of this chaos, her sister Maria turns into a jackdaw and flies away -- prompting Galina to join Yakov, a policeman investigating a rash of recent disappearances. Their search will take them to the underground realm of hidden truths and archetypes, to find themselves caught between reality and myth, past and present, honor and betrayal . . . the secret history of Moscow.
Ekaterina Sedia is one of my new favorite authors. The Secret History of Moscow begins with the story of Galina who is looking for her missing sister after giving birth in the bathroom of their shared apartment. Galina spies a blackbird outside the window and is convinced her sister has been transformed. She is hesitant to say anything to her mother due to her history of schizophrenia. From there Galina encounters Fyodor, the artist, who has seen the strangeness invading Moscow, and Yakov, the cop, who has his own run in with the vanishing people and blackbirds. Together these characters venture into the underground world of Moscow to find out what is happening. The underground world Sedia creates is heavily influenced by Russian fairy tales, so having prior knowledge or access to a place to look them up is helpful while reading The Secret History of Moscow.
One thing I love about reading a Sedia novel is how easily I get sucked into the narrative. She weaves a colorful story with an ample amount of descriptions and character developments. The story started a little slow in the first 30 or 40 pages, the story moves quickly and before I knew it I had finished!
Sedia does an excellent job mixing fantasy, fairy tales and real people. I loved the mythological world underneath the streets of Moscow, it reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. I think that is a large part in why I came to love The Secret History of Moscow. If you are a fan of Gaiman and the fantasy/mythological genres I definitely recommend looking into this book.