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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Prime Books (November 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809572230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809572236
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #509,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sedia (According to Crow) applies urban fantasy templates to her Russian setting with mixed success in her second stand-alone novel. Masha, the cheerfully normal sister of vision-prone translator Galina, turns into a jackdaw and flies off, leaving her just-born child behind. Joined by police detective Yakov Richards, Galina tracks the missing Masha into an underground milieu where lost souls mingle with beings out of Russian folklore. A host of secondary characters rapidly clutter the narrative and cloud its focus, and Sedia's persistently curt prose favors contemporary atmosphere over mythic resonance, diminishing Koschey the Deathless and Zemun the Celestial Cow to near-mundane status. Modern blue-collar Moscow is pitch-perfect, however: bustling yet seedy, disorganized and none too respectable. While undeniably authentic, the cynical tone may alienate many Western readers before they reach the startling but well-grounded climax. On the whole, this wholeheartedly Russian tale is most compelling as social commentary. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book to folks who love a good fantasy.
Amazon Customer
The main characters have no development, new ones are introduced constantly with little addition save their backstory which make this story even more boring.
Scott Qualle
Ekaterina Sedia developed a unique world and wonderful multi-layered characters to inhabit it.
L. Guerrero

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Laura Jefferson on April 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
People (including Neil Gaiman, by the blurb on the cover) keep comparing this to _Neverwhere_, but it reminded me much more of _American Gods._ It also reminded me of Little, Big and _So You Want to Be a Wizard._ The division between our world and the other is thin and has has holes, and troubles in one place reflect in the other. Although the author wastes no words, she creates characters you can believe in, whose feelings you can understnd. While not a funny book, it's hopeful. Read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Ciavarella on November 7, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I visited Moscow which gave more appreciation to the characters and settings. When the book mentioned a particular place, I was there. For those of you interesting in reading novels based in Russia, it is an emotional book about the lives of people in Moscow as well as some mythological characters from the Russian past and folklore. The author shows an appreciation of life in Russia as well as Russia's history and folklore.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tigger VINE VOICE on December 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
Russian urban fantasy is not normally my thing, but Sony was offering this free as a promotion on the E-Reader site, so I went ahead and downloaded it. Surprisingly, I quite liked it. It's certainly different from anything I've read before, and not just because it's fantasy, which I don't read much of although I make the occasional foray.

The story is told from several characters' points of view, but I'd say the primary character is Galina, a young woman in post-Soviet Russia who is working as a medical translator after her release from a mental institution for a vague form of schizophrenia that may or may not have been a complete fabrication by authorities under the old Soviet rule. Living in a dingy Moscow apartment with her mother and pregnant sister, Galina half-assumes her mental illness has returned when her sister locks herself in the bathroom, gives birth to the child, and then somehow disappears through a small window several stories from the ground. The only thing left is a black bird sitting on the windowsill, and Galina tries very hard NOT to believe that the bird is her sister - not to mention that suggesting such a thing to anyone could land her right back in the sanitarium - but can't fight the certainty that it is.

From here she's led to several others who are also having odd, inexplicable experiences involving mysterious birds, and portals into an underworld that can pose as anything from an illusory doorway to a puddle of oily water in an alley.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul E. Richardson VINE VOICE on October 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Secret History is a romp through 1990s Moscow, where the underground is a world of magic and secrets that may hold the answer to a rash of mysterious disappearances. It is an offbeat, engaging story that offers a rich portrait of a grey Moscow. It suffers only for lack of a more aggressive editor's pen - to eradicate a slew of distracting typos. (Reviewed in Russian Life)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tuulia on July 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
Some compare this to Gaiman's Neverwhere, but this is quite different, I think, even if this too is kind of an urban fantasy where people go to an ... underground world. What I loved best in this book was all the Russian mythology, of which I know shamefully little - though it was fun to spot some familiar things. (Actually, the only reason I recognized some characters etc, like e.g Koshchey the Deathless, was because I've got one single fairytale by Eduard Uspensky. Pathetic.)

Anyway, this is a pretty good book - not excellent or anything, but worth reading if you happen to get this into your hands. Some people seem to be annoyed at the way the author keeps on interrupting the story: every time a new character is introduced, the story of his or her life is also told. But. At one point I started to get the feeling that _this_ in fact is the "secret history of Moscow", these stories of small people who otherwise wouldn't get their voice heard, who, behind the brilliant Russian/Soviet coulisse are not living so wonderful lives. This isn't just fantasy, but also offers an interesting look into the everyday life in Russia/Soviet Union.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By DragonRock LTD on June 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
I just finished read it today. I liked it for the most part but it does have some large flaws. Some parts are well written with fantastic imagery but shortly afterwards you hit a spot where the action breaks the 'rules' established elsewhere or is too brief or disjointed. The characters mope a bit much more me (hand it to your favorite angry teen, they may like it more because of that). The end is a little loose and ragged, but overall the book is worth reading.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Guerrero on April 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
When Galina's sister turns into a bird and flies off leaving their mother to care for her newborn child, Galina is confused and perplexed but also determined to find her sister. Yakov is the downtrodden cop assigned to investigate the disappearance of Galina's sister and the others around Moscow who have met a similar fate. Together he and Galina, with the help of a street artist named Fyodor, must find their way into an underground version of Moscow. It is in this secret world that characters from myths, fairy tales and long forgotten religions abide and some of them are willing to help the travelers on their quest.

The Secret History of Moscow was a creative and intriguing urban fantasy novel. Ekaterina Sedia developed a unique world and wonderful multi-layered characters to inhabit it. I was captured by the story she wove and the way the Russian traditions and mythologies came alive in her writing. Fans of Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint will not want to miss this work.
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