“Their leader’s left fist was covered by a rounded piece of steel, like a boxer’s glove, and he used this knuckleduster to deliver crushing uppercuts and hooks.”


What is this book about?

A Stalin-era Russian writer called Gromov and his trusty followers. Gromov’s stories didn’t leave a lasting impression on the literary community and yet some of his readers are literally willing to die to get their hands on his work. What they do know, and no one else does, is that if someone would read Gromov’s work in one sitting while being concentrated, will receive supernatural abilities…

Why is it boring?

This book is very Russian. There are long descriptions and explanations and although this book is filled with crazy action, it doesn’t really read like a page-turner. The book itself is not even that long, but it did take me quite a while to get through.

Who would you recommend it to?

If you think that Dostoyevski should have written more low fantasy stories, than Michail Elizarov is your man. The book reads like a Russian epic, but the atmosphere is so bizarre at the same time, that the result is often pretty hilarious.

Why should I read it if it’s boring?!

The premise had me hooked. I’m a sucker for anything related to books and magic, so when I heard of this book filled with bloodthirsty librarians fighting to the death, my interest was definitely peaked. The book itself is good. The writing is solid, the characters are interesting and quirky and the book starts out with a very vivid and funny history of Gromov and how people found out that his books would give you magical powers. The world building is amazing and I totally bought that decrepit old ladies would fight with knitting needles, just to get their hands on a Book of Power so it could grant them temporary stamina. And still, this book didn’t grab me. I had to force myself through the story after a while, because I had been slowly picking away at it for more than a month. Even though I liked the book, it didn’t make me want to come back to it. I think the writing just didn’t grab me. The languid style made the book too slow for me to enjoy. However, this is a very personal gripe and I would definitely still recommend this book to people who love this kind of writing and are looking for a good read.

Rating: 3,5/5

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Review Copy attained through Netgalley with special thanks to the publisher Pushkin Press.


Esmée de Heer is head honcho over at the Bored to Death book club website, writing the daily content and making sure the site stays up and running. She's one of the founding sisters of the book club and enjoys reading and giving unsolicited love advice.

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