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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

TLC Tour Stop, Review and Giveaway: Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison

Paperback 352 pages
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Book Source: TLC Book Tours
From the tour home page:

St. Petersburg, 1917. After Rasputin’s body is pulled from the icy waters of the Neva River, his eighteen-year-old daughter, Masha, is sent to live at the imperial palace with Tsar Nikolay and his family. Desperately hoping that Masha has inherited Rasputin’s healing powers, Tsarina Alexandra asks her to tend to her son, the headstrong prince Alyosha, who suffers from hemophilia. Soon after Masha arrives at the palace, the tsar is forced to abdicate, and the Bolsheviks place the royal family under house arrest. As Russia descends into civil war, Masha and Alyosha find solace in each other’s company. To escape the confinement of the palace, and to distract the prince from the pain she cannot heal, Masha tells him stories—some embellished and others entirely imagined—about Nikolay and Alexandra’s courtship, Rasputin’s exploits, and their wild and wonderful country, now on the brink of an irrevocable transformation. In the worlds of their imagination, the weak become strong, legend becomes fact, and a future that will never come to pass feels close at hand.

My Thoughts:

Everything you have heard or read about the Romanovs, Rasputin, his daughters and anything else about the end of the Russian monarchy, put it out of your head.  Clear your mind, read this book, and enjoy having a picture painted of how these persons came to be, their history, and their actions.  Long before they became vilified through politics they were ordinary people, and that’s what Enchantments strives to do.  It is filled with stories created by Masha, Rasputin’s eldest daughter, as told to the young Russian Prince, Alyosha, or more commonly known as Alexei Nikolaevich.  Alexei was a hemophiliac and was often reportedly healed by Rasputin when he issues.  Masha is brought to Alexei after her father is found dead, murdered, to perform the same miracles as her father, but unfortunately she does not have his talent.  Instead, Masha has the gift of storytelling, which she does over many hours spent in confinement with the royal family prior to their execution.  Needless to say Masha and Alyosha become close, extremely close form spending so much time together.

Enchantments is an atypical historical fiction novel, and I enjoyed because of all the various stories, which span the Tsar and Queen Alexandra courtship and marriage, their coronation, Rasputin’s early beginnings, and feats.  It was a delight to read these stories that present these persons in a different light.  Masha doesn’t lie, per say, but she puts a different spin on things.  Eventually, the Romanovs are taken to the farmhouse where they will spend their days, until they are executed.  Masha and Alyosha are separated and she is left to pick up where her life left off.

Needless to say, poor Masha’s life is filled with terrible circumstances, but she handles things as best she can.  Being the daughter of the man who helped bring down the Russian aristocracy is not easy.  Through it all Masha does eventually find herself, but it is not easy.  And what about Alyosha?  We spend half the book with him until he is taken from Masha.  No book featuring the Romanovs would be complete without some account of the days leading up to their execution.  We have that as well, and it makes for an interesting dichotomy, with Masha who is free and finds herself, and Alyosha, whose life is snuffed out.  We do get to read his final thoughts as well, but I’m not giving that away.

Overall, Enchantments was a wonderful book and it was not what I was expecting.  I love finding books like this.  Also, there’s a great Reader’s Guide in the back which complements the story wonderfully.  I will definitely be looking into Kathryn’s Harrison’s back list when I get a chance.

Thanks TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour and for the giveaway below!


Giveaway details:

  • Must be in the U.S. or Canada and no P.O. Boxes
  • Leave a comment with an email address.  No email address no entry.
  • Deadline to enter is midnight, Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Good luck!


Kathryn Harrison’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, February 26th:  Passages to the Past – review
Wednesday, February 27th:  Passages to the Past - guest post
Thursday, February 28th:  Kritter’s Ramblings
Monday, March 4th:  Bookworm Meets Bookworm
Tuesday, March 5th:  Bippity Boppity Book – giveaway
Wednesday, March 6th:  BookNAround
Thursday, March 7th:  The Written World
Monday, March 11th:  Stiletto Storytime
Tuesday, March 12th:  Broken Teepee  guest post
Wednesday, March 13th:  Jenny Loves to Read
Monday, March 18th:  A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, March 19th:  Fiction Addict
Wednesday, March 20th:  Confessions of an Avid Reader
Thursday, March 21st:  Lit and Life 

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