My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is a strong 4.5 for me. It is a feminist, gender-swap speculative historical novel that begins with Lada’s childhood and takes you to a certain point in her later life. Her relations and relationships are meaningful in the way that they are all personally meaningful, but they also provide the framework of her social-political life. It’s super intriguing to see childhood relationships build into politicking in young adulthood.
Historical aspect aside, the other thing that is so intriguing is the toxic nature of the relationship between Lada, Radu and Mahmed. These three aren’t playing around with their feelings for each other and the political positions in life. Every time you think things can’t get worse for them, they do in unexpected ways and every time you think they can’t be more loving or terrible to each other, they find a way.
All of these bigger and smaller events amount to a spectacular character study. It’s not action-packed in the traditional sense, but there are so many layers of intrigue to keep you through to the amazing ending and then leave wanting so much more when the book is finally over.