Vita Nostra by Marina Dyachenko

Vita Nostra

The definitive English language translation of the internationally bestselling Ukrainian novel—a brilliant dark fantasy with "the potential to be a modern classic" (Lev Grossman), combining psychological suspense, enchantment, and terror that makes us consider human existence in a fresh and provocative way.Our life is brief . . .While vacationing at the beach with her mother, Sasha Samokhina meets the mysterious Farit Kozhennikov under the most...

Details Vita Nostra

TitleVita Nostra
Release DateNov 1st, 2018
PublisherHarper Voyager
GenreFantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction, Cultural, Russia, Adult

Reviews Vita Nostra

  • Rincey
    This book is like Harry Potter, but if it was written by Kafka.
  • Rachel
    At the start of this novel, 16-year-old Sasha Samokhina is on a seaside vacation with her mother, where after a few days she finds herself stalked by a mysterious man with pale skin and dark glasses. She is eventually confronted by this stranger, who entreats Sasha to wake up at 4 am every morning, go to the beach, take off all her clothes, and swim to a buoy and back. She reluctantly agrees to this strange task, and as soon as she's back on shor...
  • Nenia ❤️️ I hate everything you love ❤️️ Campbell
    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestI've been wanting to read VITA NOSTRA ever since the English translation was released and I heard about the dark magic school premise. This novel is part of a trilogy that was originally published in Ukraine, and it's one of the strangest, most fascinating, most inevitable books I have ever read. It actually reminds me a lot of R. Lee Smith's book, SCHOLOMANCE. The pacing is very slow and you...
  • Tatiana
    Who in the world wrote this book's blurb, comparing "Vita Nostra" to, of all things, Katherine Ardens "The Bear and the Nightingale"? I know they both are set in Russia, but what do they really have in common? Snow? Don't be fooled, and if you want to pick up "Vita Nostra" because you liked "The Bear and the Nightingale," just don't, ok? If you need another fix of Russian bear, fur hats and balalaikas nonsense, Leigh Bardugo can supply those. "Vi...
  • ELLIAS (elliasreads)
    There are concepts that cannot be imagined but can be named. Having received a name, they change, they flow into a different entity, and cease to correspond to the name, and then they can be given another, different name, and this process the spellbinding process of creation is indefinite: this is the word that names it, and this is the word that signifies. A concept as an organism, and text as the universe. I don't think there's a word in this ...
  • Marchpane
    How is this baffling, esoteric, paranormal weirdness also the most accurate depiction of higher education I've ever read?
  • Hannah
    Sometimes a book is so custom-made for me that I am unsure whether I can reasonably recommend it to anyone or if the reading experience was incredible just because the book hit all my favourite things. This is one of those times. Combining some of my greatest loves in fiction: dark fantasy, inspired by Russian literature, set in the middle of nowhere with plenty of snow, combining boarding school tropes with unconventional storytelling, this book...
  • David
    This is a most unusual novel, especially for Western readers. It's strange and thoughtful and dark, full of psychological twists and turns, metaphysical tangents, and the desperately humorous shenanigans of young adults carrying on at a grim Russian boarding school that is turning them all into... what, they do not exactly know.I described Marina and Sergey Dyachenko's novel The Scar as "swords & sorcery if written by Fyodor Dostoevsky." I don't ...
  • Spencer Orey
    Weird in the best of ways, a bit scary, and bizarrely magical, this book somehow captures the experience of what happens to you in college better than anything else I know.It's cliche to say that fantasy can deal with big issues better than standard fiction, but this one really gets at the experience of your world getting shifted around by education. And then it adds some big weird things on top that somehow enhance the message. I haven't read an...
  • Rick
    I have SUCH conflicting thoughts about this book because it was crazy and interesting and groundbreaking and suspenseful and fucking weird and lacking antagonists and personality and structure and chapter breaks but it's so intriguing and different and beautiful and gross and almost too smart and then maybe not smart at all and enthralling and annoying and I want to clutch it to my chest and throw it at the wall at the same time AHAGAHSGAHSDGASGA...
  • Choko
    *** 4.75 ***"... There are words that are simply trash, refuse, they turn into nothing immediately after they are spoken. Others throw shadows, hideous and pathetic, and sometimes gorgeous and powerful, capable of saving a dying soul. But only a few of these words become human beings and pronounce other words. And everyone in the world has a chance of encountering someone whom he himself spoke out loud . . .... I don't think I can give the right ...
  • Justine
    Vita Nostra is a dark and deeply provocative novel about psychological and metaphysical transformation that defies explanation even after you get to the end. It is so compelling to read, with endlessly twisting turns that loop back as often as they split off or move forward. I wouldn't necessarily be able to explain it all to someone, but I'm confident it will keep my internal dialogue going for a long time.
  • Mayim de Vries
    Anything that is truly valuable is beyond material substance if you think about it.Among the people who write fantasy novels, there is a clear over-representation of the English-speakers. However, there are many talented writers of other nationalities; the Dyachenko duet, winners of numerous literary awards, is one of them. I think the Dyachenkos are at the moment a strong contender to dethrone the Andrews in my personal married couples writing h...
  • Caro the Helmet Lady
    My opinion - great book, while I'm sure it's not for everyone. My feelings - this was like a crush. There are not so many books I was feeling like I lived in. This one was like that. I even had dreams about it at night. In such cases it's really hard to express what you think about it, because you mostly feel it. So just some general thoughts after finishing it - I've seen many great reviews here on GR, so I'll allow myself to lazy around just sh...
  • Doug
    GR friends have pointed out they can tell whether I am enjoying a book by how long it takes me to read it - so the fact it took me 8 days to complete 400 pages should tell you something (in comparison, I read the 500 pages of the far superior The Book of Strange New Things in less than 2 days). I'm not sure what even drew me to this book in the first place, since I don't read much fantasy (although this barely qualifies), so it must have been the...
  • Rebecca Roanhorse
    I absolutely loved this book. Another reviewer described it as "like Harry Potter, but if it was written by Kafka" and I couldn't agree more, in the best way. Dark, clever, and with a wonderfully creative and original magic system that I wish I'd thought of first. It resonates so deeply as some kind of theological truth about creation that feels both specific and universal and I'm into it. The pacing is solid (hard to put down), the mystery at th...
  • Lata
    First coherent thoughts: A long book that never felt long, this is a dark and often frightening version of the story of a young person going to a magical school. If the school had teachers who were uniformly scary and mysterious, and the main character was never told what she was studying and why, and what the effects would be on her mind, body and relationships. And that transformations and incredible power were to be at her disposal, and her li...
  • Maria
    This book is slow paced, philosophical, existential and it has a sort of dreary desperation throughout. But it's also a mysterious YA fantasy book set in Russia. It's dark and bleak, and can probably be described as a more mature wizarding school book.It's definitely not a light read, although the language is simple and easy enough. For me, this has been one of those immersive, engrossing reads that wraps me up in it's specific, unique atmosphere...
  • Tbfrank
    The "world" as hypertext...a product of human languageCreation myths take various forms, one of which states the world does not exist until the the objects within it are given names. A corollary states that knowing and uttering a True name conveys control over that object or being. Persons capable of wielding this power have been called shamans, magicians, gods, and writers. This particular theme makes a frequent appearance in fantastic literatur...
  • unknown
    A novel that will make your head hurt if you think too much about what it seems to be about. Better to concentrate on what it is actually about, which is that liminal period in your early 20s when you begin to transition into an adult, and realize how utterly terrifying and final that transformation is.
  • Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky)
    The best and most fascinating book I have read in years.
  • Lukasz
    In the beginning was the Word Science, or more specifically - the school of magic - is a trope that's used a lot in fantasy literature. Not surprising. If done well its a joy to read. Have Diachenkos succeeded?Short answer - yes.Vita Nostra twists the trope in most unexpected ways. Its strange, thoughtful and dark tale about metamorphosis (both physical and metaphysical) that contains coming of age elements.Sasha is a regular, high-school student...
  • Lou
    Vita Nostra, first published in 2007 in Ukraine, tells the story of Alexandra (Sasha) Samokhina, who whilst vacationing with her mother meets Farit Kozhennikov, a strange and sinister-looking man who forces her to attend a remote and mysterious university. This novel follows her adventures and exploits. One word that cannot be used to describe this novel is boring. It is certainly far from that and combines many different genres to create a truly...
  • Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
    Actual Rating: 4.5 StarsWow this was totally weird and very unique & Im so incredibly bummed that the next couple of books in the series have not yet been translated to English. Definitely gave me The Magicians vibes but not quite as cynical. Actual Rating: 4.5 StarsWow this was totally weird and very unique & I’m so incredibly bummed that the next couple of books in the series have not yet been translated to English. Definitely gave me The M...
  • Ana
    Fantasy meets speech act theory! Part ONE ↠ 3 stars Part TWO ↠ 2 stars Part THREE ↠ 1 star
  • Aliette
    (cross posted from my blog review) Sasha is a normal, straight-A high-school student; until, on a holiday with her mother, a strange man with dark glasses approaches her, and asks her to get up at 4am every morning and swim to a buoy on the beach. She tries to ignore him, but when she does so, time stops passing: the same day loops over and over, trapping her in a morass of impending dread. When she finally takes the mans advice and swims, she fi...
  • Perry
    Conjunction JunctionWhat's Your Function?How can I rate a book when I am still trying to figure out what happened? What if your Hogwarts magic superpower is .... transforming into an adverb, a pronoun, an article, etc.??
  • Sana
    'To live is to be vulnerable. A thin membrane of a soap bubble separates one from impenetrable hell. Ice on the road. The unlucky division of an aging cell. A child picks up a pill from the floor. Words stick to each other, line up, obedient to the great harmony of speech...'This book may have half broken my brain, but that's okay because I had too much of a good time reading it. I'd categorize it as contemporary fantasy, but it also has sci-fi, ...
  • Vavita
    What a ride!I don't know when book 2 and 3 will be translated into English, but I can't wait! This book for sure deserves to be read and re-read; it needs to be marinated and savored. It is very cerebral. dark and complicated; although maybe not for everybody.
  • Angela Boord
    First of all, I thought Vita Nostra was an amazing book, the best book I've read this year. It's a book I'll probably think over for a long time. But I'm having a hard time deciding what to write in a review. And from reading other reviews of the book, I think I may not be the only one who's suffered from that affliction. People tend to make a lot of the sinister, creepy (and bizarre) atmosphere of the magic school. Or they talk about how the boo...