C. J. Cherryh
Rusalka Cover



I almost abandoned the book in Chapter 12 on page 130. I decided that I should give myself until page 200 in this 340-page book. At that point I could mark it "read" with a good conscience and then explain why I didn't finish it in a review. However, the end of Chapter 12 picked up and things actually started happening in Chapter 13, so I persisted. I read 100+ more pages to Chapter 22, where I had to stop. The characters were just running in circles, the new plot twist was confusingly handled, and I did not care about what happened to these people any longer. It is a shame to stop with only 100 more pages to go, but I could not read any longer.

The main problem with Cherryh's Rusalka, in my opinion, is not ideas but execution. The use of Russian mythology is interesting, and unlike other reviewers, I am not going to quibble about accuracy or inaccuracy with the mythological characters. This is fiction after all. Execution, I will complain about. The characters are extremely one-dimensional. The two main characters, Sasha and Pyetr, talk about the same problems over and over again, each with the same approach. These conversations are very repetitive. And---in the same way, when they are not discussing a particular issue, one of them is thinking about it, so there's a lot of reportage about what each is thinking. It is so tedious and boring.

I've never read any Cherryh before, so I hope this is not typical. This book has two sequels that I will give a pass. However, I might try to read some of her other series. There's one passage in the book that sums up the reading experience for me: "He had no wish to go deeply into that with Pyetr tonight, or to try to explain it..." I laughed out loud when I read it. If Cherryh's characters had only thought this more often and acted on those thoughts, this might be a readable book.