the cover makes it look so grim, yet this is a rather light and pleasant fantasy, most of the time. bad things happen but overall it is an earnest and loveable novel. which made it enjoyable but also unmemorable and somewhat of a disappointment. i was hoping for much darker things. russian mythology is scary mythology! russia is scary! i wanted old school russia i guess, gogol set in an enchanted forest. but what i got was robin mckinley lite. ah well.