I'm giving it 2.5/3 stars, but I honestly have no idea what I've just read, nor whether I actually liked it or not. It's definitely weird. I think I don't know enough about Russian folklore to fully taste everything in this book—but at the same time, I knew enough folklore (as well as history) to be able to piece things together, at least most of the time... I think? This is so hard to explain.
The prose was interesting. Poetic, sometimes too much, which led to convoluted imagery; mostly it worked well enough for me, but I admit I sometimes skimmed a little, because I didn't know where things were going, and wanted to, well, know.
Relationships in this novel were also pretty much skewed. Abusive, and at the same time strangely befitting a world of dark tales. Was it love? Was it possessiveness? All of this? None? Trying to figure things out was both interesting and challenging. There's an underlying streak of domination and submission, of both loyalty and cheating, and it's like all the main characters get a run at it at some point. There's light in very negative behaviours, and darkness in apparently positive moments. This story continuously tethers on a brink. Challenging, indeed.
I feel like I'm missing something, but I don't know what—and I also feel that if I knew what, I'd be able to appreciate this book better.