Title: The Mirrored World
Author: Debra Dean
Summary: Born to a Russian family of lower nobility, Xenia, an eccentric dreamer who cares little for social conventions, falls in love with Andrei, a charismatic soldier and singer in the Empress's Imperial choir. Though husband and wife adore each other, their happiness is overshadowed by the absurd demands of life at the royal court and by Xenia's growing obsession with having a child—a desperate need that is at last fulfilled with the birth of her daughter. But then a tragic vision comes true, and a shattered Xenia descends into grief, undergoing a profound transformation that alters the course of her life. Turning away from family and friends, she begins giving all her money and possessions to the poor. Then, one day, she mysteriously vanishes.
Years later, dressed in the tatters of her husband's military uniform and answering only to his name, Xenia is discovered tending the paupers of St. Petersburg's slums. Revered as a soothsayer and a blessed healer to the downtrodden, she is feared by the royal court and its new Empress, Catherine, who perceives her deeds as a rebuke to their lavish excesses. In this evocative and elegantly written tale, Dean reimagines the intriguing life of Xenia of St. Petersburg, a patron saint of her city and one of Russia's most mysterious and beloved holy figures. This is an exploration of the blessings of loyal friendship, the limits of reason, and the true costs of loving deeply.
My Rating: 7.5/10
What I liked/disliked about the book: Overall I enjoyed the book, it ended up being a interesting read and the overall story was well done. I don't know a lot about the time period, but I think the author gave enough of a glimpse for me to want to seek out more historical fiction during the time period. Writing was well done, I'll more than likely seek out more by the author at some point in time.
I did find it a little too short, and I think some plot and character development fell just a touch short because of it. There was some great story telling, and interesting characters, but I wanted more from them, especially Xenia, but the book ended before I could get that. There was a lot of stuff going on in the background, historical events, political etc. That were going on. Which I never got any details about - although this is both a good and bad thing. Good because the author focused on the main point of the story - Xenia and didn't pull away to give more details. But it's also a bad thing, because I wanted to know more.
In the end, it was a good novella, that left me wanting to read more.
Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was an interesting story, good characterization. I think there would be many readers who would love the book.
What to read next: I'd try out the author's other books
Challenges: 12 in 12