Saturday, 24 August 2013
Review of Vassily the Beautiful by Angel Martinez
Many of my friends do reviews on their blogs and I thought, why not. I've read lots of really great books and why shouldn't I shout out to the world how much I've enjoyed them.
I'm going to start with my favourite. I read Vassily the Beautiful by Angel Martinez some time ago and the 'feel' of it has haunted me every since. Every time I look at the beautiful book cover it sends a shiver through me.
Vassily is a sweet, gentle boy. Seriously injured in the lab accident that killed his father, he remains delicate and introvert, living for his music.
When his mother brings home a new husband complete with two sons, Vassily struggles to come to terms with the family who turn his life on its head.
Shortly afterwards his mother is taken prisoner by space pirates and he is plunged into hell when he discovers his step father is the manufacturer of a particular nasty drug. Vassily is forced to take the drug and become his step father's lab rat.
He lives in misery counting his days and praying for release until the day his step father sends him to collect a rare piece of equipment from the mysterious and reclusive Baba Yaga. Littel does he know that this simple task would revolutionize his life and change it forever.
Baba Yaga refuses to deal with a drug addict and hands Vassily over to her three sons to 'cure'. After suffering hell on wheels, Vassily comes to trust the three very different boys. Poldien is sweet, gentle and somewhat effeminate. He's a healer and takes care of Vassily while he recovers from his addiction. Rassvet is the muscle man. Straightforward and uncomplicated he is somewhat difficult to get along with at the start but is a really good friend. Sumerki is the hardest to get along with. He is disgusted by Vassily's drug addiction and interacts only when he has to. Nevertheless he is the one Vassily is most drawn to.
Gradually Vassily's relationship with Sumi deepens and love appears on the horizon. However, before anything can come of it, Baba Yaga gives Vassily the part he came from and he is forced to return to his father and brothers. Threatened again with addiction Vassily escapes and returns to Sumi, to find them all on the brink of war and literally has to fight for his love.
This is a totally enchanting story, based on a Russian Fairytale. Vassily is the sweetest, most gently person you could want to meet but with almost inexhaustible inner strength. In the first half of the book I was constantly on the edge of my seat with my heart in my mouth wondering what delightful torture lay around the next corner, as Vassily's life descends into hell.
I fell in love with Vassily straight away and really cared when he was being treated badly. The trip from home to Baba Yaga was terrifying for Vassily and quite stressful for me, too and the torment he went through coming off the drug was heart breaking.
The supporting cast are all strongly drawn and very distinct from each other. There is some stereotyping although that must be inevitable when the story is based on a fairytale but frankly I only realised that when I really thought about it. The story flows so naturally and the characters are introduced in such a way that I tool to them or hated them immediately and was invested in their lives from the start.
The characters are diverse but they all have their own charm. Even Vassily's evil step brothers have redeeming features at the end.
I'm sure you will have noticed that I am a very character driven reader, as I am a character driven writer and if a book doesn't have strong characters, good interaction and great dialogue you can forget it as far as I'm concerned. This book has all three in generous measure as well as delicate story telling, almost unconscious world building and enough action to satisfy the sci fi fans too.
There is heat but it's definitely not the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of this story.
The magic of this story captured me in the first few pages and carried me to the end and beyond. It still clings to me now when I recall it. The cover itself is enough to case a spell over the reader and make them want more.
On a scale of one to ten this one is a nine and a half.
This wonderful author can be found here where you can find information on her other books
It's on Smashwords as well but I couldn't find the link. Well, what are you waiting for? Go read it now!