Friday, February 25, 2011

Dreaming Anastasia- Joy Preble

Deranged Relatives- Next on Dr Phil!
Yup, you've got to love the Romanovs (and yes, the Dr Phil quote is really in the book).
People have been rumoring for almost a century that Anastasia Romanov did not die with her family and was somehow saved from the their fate of being shot down and thrown in a pit in Russia.  But no one has ever come up with a theory like this.
In Dreaming Anastasia, Anne Michaelson, a modern day girl, has this connection with Anastasia.  In her dreams, she is Anastasia, and she's in a hut with a witch (Baba Yaga).It turns out that this is, in fact, actually happening. 
Other main character, Ethan, a 100+ year-old teenager, has been trying to save Anastasia from Baba Yaga's hut ever since the Romanov slaughter.  Because of him and an illegitimate offspring of Tsar Nicholas, Baba Yaga scooped up Anastasia and has kept her safe (but lonely and scared) in her hut for almost a century.
So that is the premise.
I like Anne as a character.  Her mother was a little obsessed with the Romanovs (like mine), really enjoyed antiques (like mine), and well, Anne's name is the same as MY name!
Ethan is also a great character, seeing as through him, you can learn Russian.  This is exciting because now I know how that if I meet a Russian guy who is a jerk, I can call him a zalupa, and he will be insulted.
If only I had known that in high school.  It would have been helpful.
Ah, well.
Anne and Ethan are both first person narrators, and through them the story is told.  There are a few excerpts from Anastasia, but mostly it's Anne and Ethan. Anne doesn't like Ethan at first, even though best friend Tess thinks he's hot (this is despite the fact that he appears to be stalking Anne, which Anne at least finds creepy). Ethan and Anne are trying to get poor Anastasia out of that damn hut, but there is all sorts of conflict, as Nicholas' illegitimate offspring is a zalupa and no one can seem to figure out which side he's on, as well as a bunch of other zalupas who are also stuck in weird immortality like Ethan is. And of course, Baba Yaga is a fearsome metal toothed witch from Russian folklore, so she is also a duplicitous character.
So as you can see, this is a twist on the tale of Anastasia Romanov that you've in all likelihood never come across before.  I know I haven't, and I've read a lot about the Romanovs due to my mother's small obsession with them.
What I really like, besides the fact that it's unique, is that the story uses Russian folklore as an important element.  Most of the time, the only Slavic myth you come across in contemporary fiction is that of the vampire (which is silly because there are SO MANY other things to choose from!  People need to get with it and pick other mythical elements! PLEASE!).
I also like the Anne is not all love-at-first-site with Ethan.  That happens WAY too much.  As in, 'hey I'm immortal and I'm stalking you' 'OMG that is so hot!' which really has gotten old.  In fact, Anne is turned off by his immortality and it takes her some time to learn to trust this zalupa who follows her around.
And honestly, that's much more realistic.
Joy Preble recently released a sequel to this book, Haunted, which deals with the aftermath.

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