Monday, February 3, 2020

Review: Daughter from the Dark by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko

Daughter from the Dark
Daughter from the Dark by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko

Publication Date: 2020
Hardcover.  pages

About Daughter from the Dark:

"Late one night, fate brings together DJ Aspirin and ten-year-old Alyona. After he tries to save her from imminent danger, she ends up at his apartment. But in the morning sinister doubts set in. Who is Alyona? A young con artist? A plant for a nefarious blackmailer? Or perhaps a long-lost daughter Aspirin never knew existed? Whoever this mysterious girl is, she now refuses to leave. 

A game of cat-and-mouse has begun. 

Claiming that she is a musical prodigy, Alyona insists she must play a complicated violin piece to find her brother. Confused and wary, Aspirin knows one thing: he wants her out of his apartment and his life. Yet every attempt to get rid of her is thwarted by an unusual protector: her plush teddy bear that may just transform into a fearsome monster. 

Alyona tells Aspirin that if he would just allow her do her work, she’ll leave him—and this world. He can then return to the shallow life he led before her. But as outside forces begin to coalesce, threatening to finally separate them, Aspirin makes a startling discovery about himself and this ethereal, eerie child."

Daughter from the Dark was an exceptionally odd book and I really am not sure how I feel about it. When I say this is an odd book, I'm not exaggerating--there's weird characters, an uncertain plot, and a variety of other elements that make this book a tough one to decode. This is the second book I've read by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko, the first being Vita Nostra, a book that I completely fell in love with. Daughter from the Dark didn't quite live up to Vita Nostra, but I'm not sure if anything could.

The book starts with our protagonist, radio DJ Aspirin, who saves a little girl, Alyona (who carries a teddy bear) from the less-than-welcoming nighttime streets and from there things get progressively weirder. Aspirin is not exactly a warm and welcoming person, so he wants to find Alyona's parents and vacate his apartment so he can go back to his normal life. Unfortunately, Alyona is a bit stubborn and doesn't seem to have any plans to leave, especially when she begins to claim that Aspirin is her father, which of course only makes Aspirin angrier.

Alyona is trying to find her brother, which she embarks with the help of her violin and the aforementioned teddy bear, which trust me when I say this is a teddy bear that you probably don't want to meet for any reason other than a brief hello. Alyona is extremely stubborn and the type of person who decides on a goal and then refuses to budge from it for almost any reason. Her interactions with Aspirin are interesting to say the least, and range from hostile to completely amusing.

Aspirin, much like Alyona, is also pretty stubborn and doesn't particularly like when things throw themselves abruptly into his life (which I can understand and seems mostly reasonable). He's a bit selfish on the whole and can be a bit rude, but he's not really a bad person and is really just doing his best to make it through each day. I found him to be an intriguing character and I liked watching his relationship ad interactions with Alyona develop as the story progressed.

The pacing of Daughter from the Dark is definitely on the slower side and there aren't really a lot of major high-intensity moments that take over, save for maybe a small handful. However, there's something about the writing style and the curious uncertainty that inhabits this plot that made it really easy for me to keep reading . There were times when I asked myself if I really wanted to finish this book, but I can't say I ever actually seriously considered DNF-ing it because, frankly, I was just too intrigued to know what would end happening in the end. Marina and Sergey Dyachenko have a huge skill in knowing how to write weird stories with weird characters in a way that makes them utterly captivating and nearly impossible to stop reading.

Initially, I debated between giving this book three and four stars, but it's one of those where the more I think about it, the more and more I like it and am intrigued by it, so it's four stars from me! I fully intend to check out the few other novels from the Dyachenkos that have been translated soon, and I'm also going to keep my fingers crossed that one day the sequel to Vita Nostra will also be translated. If you like things a bit weird, a bit on the slower and calmer side, and that will keep you wondering, then I encourage you to pick up this book (or Vita Nostra!) and give it a shot. Plus, that cover alone is stunning!

*I received a copy of Daughter from the Dark courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

1 comment:

  1. That is definitely an interesting premise! Glad the story grew on you!