Let's get one thing straight: Ksenia Anske is brilliant. Really, she is. I read her novel ROSEHEAD in one sitting over the summer, and I read IRKADURA without stopping, too. I couldn't put it down. Anske's prose is dark and dreamy. She evokes a mood that is haunting yet real; scary yet sublime.
And I loved every minute of it.
This review is going to be short and sweet in an effort to avoid gushing.
Irina Myshko is a sixteen-year-old Soviet girl who doesn't speak. Why? She's suffered decades of abuse at the hands (and other parts) of her mother's boyfriends, and she's been coping by escaping to an alternate reality. In this world, people's true natures are revealed and they manifest themselves as animals.
When Irina becomes pregnant, homeless, and penniless, she must figure out a way to survive in the world long enough to keep the impending madness at bay.
The chapters are composed of short scenes that jump from one event to the next without wasting time. The pacing is fast, but not too fast. Also, there are no digressions. There weren't any sections I wanted to skip. That's the mark of an excellent story right there.
This book unnerved me in the best way possible. I've heard a lot of good things about IRKADURA. All of them are true. The story is told from Irina's POV, in first-person present tense. This style makes the plot much more immediate - as a reader, it felt like everything were actually happening to me.
The events of the novel stick in your mind, as does the imagery Anske evokes. After finishing IRKADURA, I dreamed I was pregnant with a boar. Weird stuff, people. Weird, but good.
It's darker than my usual reading fare, believe it or not, but it's an incredible novel. If you want to read something that will stay with you long after you've put it away, you might want to go out and buy IRKADURA.
What did you think of IRKADURA? If you haven't read it yet, how do you think it sounds?
See why @brianawrites calls IRKADURA by @kseniaanske "haunting yet real; scary yet sublime." (Click to tweet)