Toby Barlow. FSG, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-0-374-10787-1
Russian folklore and Cold War intrigue come to blows in Barlow’s uneven but charming five-part novel. The reader is introduced to Zoya, a babayaga, or witch, living in Paris some years after WWII, as she gets rid of a lover who has noticed her failure to visibly age. The messy results lead her to drag in Elga, her mentor; Elga in turn gets heat from a detective and turns him into a flea. Zoya then meets, charms, and falls for a CIA agent named Will who has problems of his own. As Elga takes on a new novice in order to take revenge on Zoya, Will’s mistakes entangle him in a CIA plot involving a former Nazi doctor with ties to the babayagas. The love story between Zoya and Will never quite gains believability, and the first half of the novel is slow, but the history Barlow (Sharp Teeth )weaves for the babayagas—Elga in particular—is worth reading. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, the Gernert Company. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 04/22/2013
Release date: 08/06/2013
Genre: Fiction
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