Atmospheric fantasy set in old-time Russia

Since reading The Bear and the Nightingale some years ago, I’ve been hungry for Imperial Russia novels, especially solid, fantasy ones.

Russia, 1918: With the execution of Tsar Nicholas, the empire crumbles and Russia is on the edge of civil war—the poor are devouring the rich. Anna, a bourgeois girl, narrowly escaped the massacre of her entire family in Yekaterinburg. Desperate to get away from the Bolsheviks, she offers a peasant girl a diamond to take her as far south as possible—not realizing that the girl is a communist herself. With her brother in desperate need of a doctor, Evgenia accepts Anna’s offer and suddenly finds herself on the wrong side of the war.

Anna is being hunted by the Bolsheviks, and now—regardless of her loyalties—Evgenia is too.

As a half-goddess possessing magic, Yaga is used to living on her own, her prior entanglements with mortals having led to heartbreak. She mostly keeps to her hut in the woods, where those in need of healing seek her out, even as they spread rumors about her supposed cruelty and wicked spells. But when her old friend Anastasia–now the wife of the Tsar, and suffering from a mysterious illness–arrives in her forest desperate for her protection, Yaga realizes the fate of all of Russia is tied to Anastasia’s.

As she travels to Moscow, Yaga witnesses a sixteenth century Russia on the brink of chaos…Yaga believes the Tsaritsa is being poisoned by an unknown enemy…

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh.

When [Alina Starkov’s] regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems…

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death…

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.
A prince in danger must decide who to trust.
A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. 

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