The Star of Kazan

First blogged book review...I must say I'm excited to join the ranks of all the oh-so-cool LRRHer book-reviewing bloggers!

The Star of Kazan, by Eva Ibbotson, isn't quite a young adult book, but it has an older feel than the others of her books that I've read (Which Witch? and Island of the Aunts), and I'm looking forward to reading her other YA novels. A Countess Below Stairs, here I come...

The Star of Kazan takes place around the turn of the nineteenth century in the Austro-Hungarian and German empires. Twelve-year-old Annika was found abandoned in a church as an infant by the cook and maid of a Viennese household of professors. Sigrid and Ellie, the two servants, have raised her since then, and though she has a comfortable and happy life, she still dreams of her mother someday seeking her out. When, to the great surprise of all, a grand lady arrives at their doorstep claiming Annika as her daughter, it seems as though Annika's dearest wish has finally been granted. But her new life at the grim family manor in bleak northern Germany is full of strangeness and secrets, and it doesn't take long to realize that everything is not as it should be. Throw in a Gypsy stableboy who knows more about the family's past than he'll tell, a dying old woman who was once a star on the stages of Paris, and a convention of overly-relaxed jewelers, and there's nothing for the story to be but absorbing.

By about the halfway point, I was having trouble putting this book down, despite the fact that also had basically the whole plot figured out by then (not sure how that works). Plotting aside, the setting is perfect and the idiosyncratic and original characters are likeable. As comfort books go, this one's got a special glow. It reminds me of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase in some ways, although they have different styles and different feelings. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Grade: B+

What a LRRHer says about The Star of Kazan:

I found an interesting interview with Eva Ibbotson on


Ani Isilee 12/04/2007 2:40 PM  

Oh, this looks really good. I loved A Song for Summer and A Countess Below Stairs so I'll give this one try. :)

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