My Thoughts: I received this book for review from NetGalley. I am fascinated by all things Russian and especially by Imperial Russian history which is why I was so drawn to this book. That being said, I really didn't enjoy this book. The story was slow and strange and I could not get into it all. Darya was an interesting character but she was the only one. All of the other characters lacked depth. Darya's love interest, Avram, was supposed to play this major role in her life and all I really knew about him was that he was a Jewish painter. Darya was supposed to be madly in love with him and yet Avram's character wasn't fleshed out. I felt like I did not know the charcters well and thus, I didn't really care about them.
Another thing that really bothered me was how the author referred to St. Petersburg as Petrograd throughout the entire book. St. Petersburg did not become Petrograd until 1914 but in the chapters taking place in 1904 and on, Mossanen refers to the city as Petrograd. I thought that maybe Mossanen did this because it was supposed to be Darya telling the story to someone in 1991, but if that had been the case Darya would have referred to the city as Leningrad. I know it's minor but it bugged me!
The story also includes an odd flashback and we find out that Darya was a Jewish Queen in a past life; this substory seemed to me to be not incredibly relevant to the story. Darya was a mystical character but I didn't feel like this explained who she was any further. The end of the story was sad and anticlimactic and so much was left unanswered especially in regards to what happened in the House of Special Purpose and Avram's role in rescuing people. This book had potential but just didn't hit the mark. 2 1/2 stars.