In Rusalka's sequel Chernevog, we are once again transported via historical fantasy to pre-Christian Russia with Sasha and Pyetr, who had thought their adventures were over. Sure, they were still living in an enchanted forest whose population included wizards, magical river-things, house-things, yard-things, forest spirits, banniks, and people in various states of being dead... but things had pretty much settled down, and so had Pyetr with his new wife, whom Sasha was ever dutifully trying to appease.
Sasha was not a young boy anymore, and felt out of place in the young couple's house, and yet he would not leave his best friend Pyetr, and even if he did, there was nowhere for him to go. This, however, was not the reason Pyetr's wife felt increasingly uncomfortable with him; nor was it because both she and Sasha were wizards, and wizards find it hard to get along together. Rather, she had a most disturbing premonition about who Sasha reminded her of more with each passing day: Uulamets, the wizard who had stifled and tormented her, and who had healed Pyetr just to use him for his own purposes. And yet, as Sasha and Pyetr looked on, she herself was becoming more and more like someone from her past.
A series of unexpected and seemingly trivial occurrences takes a cataclysmic turn, separating the three of them in a forest gone suddenly wrong. Their usual protections failing, doubts proliferate and undermine their alliances, and a most bizarre and unnerving exchange of hearts threatens Sasha and Pyetr's friendship and the life of them all. One thing becomes resoundingly clear as they struggle to survive: once a wish has been made, it lives on, no matter if the one who made it is now dead and goneâ¦
here is a very apt quote to end with, I think:
âGod,â Pyetr said. âI'm going to go talk to my horse. Books make you crazy, you know.â A motion at his head. âThinking all those crooked little marks mean real things, that's not sane, you know.â He waved the same hand toward the front door. âOut there is real. Don't lose track of that.â (p.42)
and I note a beautiful wish on page 141.
In this strong sequel to Rusalka , Cherryh continues her fantasy series based on ancient Russian folklore. During the hoary time of the book's setting, wizards have power to influence events by wishing things to happen--but sometimes unlooked-for side effects occur. Here the former destructive rusalka (ghost) Eveshka, killed by the sorcerer Chernevog in the earlier volume and resurrected when her father sacrificed his life in her stead, is living with her husband Pyetrsp ok and the young wizard Sasha. Both Sasha and Eveshka worry about the power of their often unconscious wishes, concerned that their thoughts are being influenced by still-functioning wishes remaining in the atmosphere from a former time. When Eveshka suddenly leaves home without reason, Sasha and Pyetr feel sure someone has been wishing or magicking her, and set out in search of Chernevog. Cherryh's lyrical, vivid depiction of lonely northern forests and their supernatural inhabitants creates a believable backdrop for her three-dimensional characters and their emotionally involving story.
A young wizard, his best friend, and a woman magically restored to life find their idyllic forest existence shattered by the dark machinations of an old and implacable enemy in this sequel to Rusalka. Forest spirits, ``yard things,'' and other magical creatures drawn from Russian folklore add a unique flavor to this story of loyalty and courage. Recommended for fantasy collections.