The Silent Deal by Levi Stack
Genre: Fiction/ Historical Fiction/ Young Adult/Fantasy
My Rating: ★★★★1/2
WHEN VIKTOR AND ROMULUS, two peasant boys, dig into their town’s strange past, they awaken the wrath of a mysterious overlord. As the blood brothers struggle to survive, their search for answers takes them through gambling parlors, fortune-teller dens, and moonlit forests full of monsters and men alike.
**Spoiler Free Review**
I was happy to receive an ebook copy of The Silent Deal from the author, Levi Stack, in exchange for an honest review.
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this book when I first began it but it wasn't long before I was completely hooked on the story. I don't want to give too much of the plot away as I think going into this book without knowing everything is probably for the best. But what do you get when you combine Russia with gypsies, peasants, a mysterious overlord, thieves, fire-jugglers, playing cards and a little bit of magic? A brilliant story, that's what.
The book is set in Russia in the 1830s, a land of aristocrats and serfs. The main character, Viktor, lives in Aryk with a mysteries and hidden past which no-one talks about, but everyone knows it is related to the cards. When Viktor meets the strange forest-boy, known as Romulus, they dive head-first into the enigma of the cards to discover more of the town's past, and their own.
I absolutely loved the mystery and intrigue which surrounds the plot, it is quite literally a page-turner. Every time you think you learn something, another twist turns the plot in a new direction you couldn't have imagined. I was thrilled to find I couldn't predict any of the mysteries in the novel, and the one's I thought I had guessed right, were often wrong. I was left stunned and amazed by many the revelations and they kept me reading until the very end. Also the use of cards in the text was just brilliant and so cleverly interwoven in the plot.
The characters were so well-rounded, realistic and funny, often making the mistakes that a real child/teen would in naivety and innocence. I was behind the characters from the start and the introduction of the gypsy's made me even more in love with the characters. Also, despite his sometimes annoying nature in the book (which is definitely intentional), I found Belch's constant use of Shakespearean quotes very funny.
I loved the setting of the novel, Russia in the 1830s is and incredibly interesting time-period and Stack creates a vivid picture of the time and its history. He clearly put a lot of research into the novel and it certainly pays off. The world in which Viktor lives feels both richly real yet incredibly fantastical. The descriptions make the world so vivid leaving the story, despite its fiction, feeling very real.
My only slight problem with the book was that parts felt a little rushed and I sometimes had to go back to see what had happened. However, I can't tell if this because I was reading so quickly, as I was caught up with the plot, or if it occasionally jumped ahead of itself. I also found the start a little difficult as it went through a couple of dream sequences fairly quickly and I became confused as to what was actually happening in the story and what was imagined. These are only minor concerns however.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I really can't wait to read the next book in the sequence. I would definitely recommend this to lovers of Historical Fiction and those who love the setting of Russia, as I do. I'll definitely be picking up a physical copy as soon as I can.