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

  • 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...
  • Rincey
    This book is like Harry Potter, but if it was written by Kafka.
  • Tatiana
    Who in the world wrote this book's blurb, comparing "Vita Nostra" to, of all things, Katherine Arden’s "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. ...
  • 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...
  • Marchpane
    How is this baffling, esoteric, paranormal weirdness also the most accurate depiction of higher education I've ever read?
  • 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 ...
  • Rick (from Another Book Vlog)
    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...
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • Acqua
    Vita Nostra is one of the creepiest books I've ever read.I almost feel like I'm doing it a disservice by calling it "creepy", because it's so much more than that, but my vocabulary in English is what it is. As this book is about projections, I think it makes sense that the explanation of my feelings in English will be only a shadow of what I could say in Italian.As I was saying, it's creepy. There's no on-page death, there are no monsters, haunti...
  • 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...
  • 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 it’s a joy to read. Have Diachenko’s succeeded?Short answer - yes.Vita Nostra twists the trope in most unexpected ways. It’s strange, thoughtful and dark tale about metamorphosis (both physical and metaphysical) that contains coming of age elements.Sasha is a regular, high-schoo...
  • 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...
  • Ana
    Fantasy meets speech act theory! Part ONE ↠ 3 stars Part TWO ↠ 2 stars Part THREE ↠ 1 star
  • 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...
  • Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky)
    The best and most fascinating book I have read in years.
  • 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 man’s advice and swims, she...
  • 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.??
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, ...
  • 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...
  • Tes - paperbackbones
    I.... loved this? UTTER mindfuck. Harry Potter, but written by Kafka and edited by Dostoyevsky. If you enjoyed Ursula K Leguin’s The Lathe of Heaven + Max Barry’s Lexicon + the first book in Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy, then this one should be on your TBR list.Dark and strange and unputdownable.
  • Avanders
    I had to think about this for a bit.I finished last night. I could hardly describe it.. well, I could describe it, but for me to say *more* than: it’s about a girl forced to go to a weird college in Russia where weird things are happening but we don’t know what... would be spoiler. The plot is deceptively simple.. the text is heady and philosophical. The pace is slow, yet it always felt like a page turner. I never wanted to put it down. I can...
  • Rina
    "Any instance of learning is coercion."The first hundred pages of Vita Nostra read like a dark fantasy with a similar atmosphere to the show, Magicians. After Sasha's introduction to her mysterious university it became clear that this book was more of an allegorical criticism of Russian academia. Although the book is beautifully written I found it to be extremely repetitive. I would not recommend this book to fans of fantasy, but more for new col...