Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble

What really happened to Anastasia Romanov?
Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn't. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.
In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn't know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college—until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…

This is a book I've been wanting to read for a very long time. I figured since there is now a sequel to it, now would be a great time to read the first one!

I was hooked on Dreaming Anastasia from the moment Ethan showed up at the ballet--which is just a few pages in! I will admit that it was a bit slow, and a little less action packed than I expected, but I still really liked the story. I was also a little disappointed with the ending. The author's choices made sense to me, I just wished things could have been different. I am excited to read the sequel, Haunted, though and see where the story goes.

The Russian folk tale of Baba Yaga was intriguing to me. I've never heard it before, and I loved the tie in. If you are unfamiliar with the tale of Baba Yaga, particularly with Vasilisa the Brave, here it is:

In Russian tales, Baba Yaga is portrayed as a hag. She lives in a log cabin that moves around on a pair of dancing chicken legs and is surrounded by a palisade with a skull on each pole. The keyhole to her front door is a mouth filled with sharp teeth; the fence outside is made with human bones with skulls on top. The hut does not reveal the door until it is told a magical phrase: "Turn your back to the forest, your front to me".
In some tales, the hut is connected with three riders: one in white, riding a white horse with white harness, who is Day; a red rider, who is the Sun; and one in black, who is Night. In the folk tale Vasilisa the Brave, the young girl is given three impossible tasks that she solves using a magic doll given to her by her mother. In the Christianized version of the story, Vasilisa is sent to visit Baba Yaga on an errand and is enslaved by her, but the hag's servants — a cat, a dog, a gate, and a tree — help Vasilisa to escape because she has been kind to them. (From Wikipedia)

There are many similarities and references to this tale in Dreaming Anastasia. Although there were a few sub-plots, this was the main one throughout the entire book. I'm interested to see what the next book holds, since this particular storyline was pretty wrapped up. Some of the sub-plots weren't, which is why I am curious to see which one the author pursued. This one is definitely worth reading, but I would dedicate a few days to it. It is slow, but it's also really interesting!

Happy Reading!

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