cover image The Witch and the Tsar

The Witch and the Tsar

Olesya Salnikova Gilmore. Ace, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-54697-0

Gilmore’s enchanting debut adds to the growing genre of mythological retellings that reframe the acts of supposedly villainous women. In 1560 Russia, half-mortal and half-goddess Yaga Mokoshevna is called Baba Yaga the Bony Leg by those who only know of her by her demonic reputation. Fearful of magic that they don’t understand, mortals seek out Yaga’s services in the night, coming to her for aid with illness, love, or other ailments, but never in the light of day—until the czaritza Anastasia Romanovna Zakharyina-Yurieva arrives at her doorstep seeking a cure for a mysterious illness. After Yaga determines the czaritza’s been poisoned by an unknown would-be assassin, she’s reluctantly thrust into the political sphere. Czar Ivan IV, Anastasia’s husband, is a paranoid and controlling man who sees betrayal and treachery at every turn. As he drives Russia toward violence and war, Yaga discovers that higher powers may be pulling his strings. Spanning 20 years of Yaga’s immortal life as she fights to protect the homeland she loves from those with even greater powers than the czar, this epic tale brings both history and folklore to vivid life. It’s a fresh, exciting take sure to capture fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe and Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne. Agent: Jennifer Weltz, Jean V. Naggar Literary. (Sept.)