Sister Pelagia and the Black Monk
#2 in the Sister Pelagia Series
by Boris Akunin
Andrew Bromfield (Translator)
When a demon threatens a seaside monastery and surrounding town, the monks beg Bishop Mitrofanii to investigate
the mysterious visitation. The first investigator, the Bishop's Nihilist protégé, ends up in the local sanitarium,
naked and blathering. The second, the local police captain and devout parishioner, is ruled a suicide. The third,
the district attorney and a dear friend is near-catatonic from fright and also at the sanitarium. The Bishop is
prostrated by his culpability in the destruction of the minds (and souls!) of three people so close to him. That
leaves only Sister Pelagia to go where nuns are not allowed, the Hermitage at the Monastery of New Ararat.
I loved this book and its predecessor, Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog (also
reviewed on Myshelf.com). The text
emulates works of the period and reminds me of translations of extant examples: full of fifty-cent words and
ten-dollar sentences, wonderful asides about Russian life, debates on political philosophy and shocking
revelations. The horror aspects are not the big, jump-out-and-scare-you kind; there are just a few of the
ice-cold variety that claw at your instincts and take up residence under your skin. Stylistics may come from
translation choices, but the author is a student of Dostoevsky and this shows both thematically and structurally.
Sister Pelagia, her intrepid sister Polina Andreevna and introspective brother Pelagius are thoroughly engaging
and make any extra effort required to absorb the aura of the text well worth the time.
I love books that make me react; and at least once I sat up and said, "OH!" right out loud! Another time while
the Bishop and Pelagia were discussing suicide I looked up and said, "She did NOT say that!"—a fairly
amazing experience in this day and age. You'll know the place when you get there.
I am keeping my eyes open for the third in the series,
Sister Pelagia and the Red
Random House Trade Paperbacks|
May 13, 2008|
0812975146 / 978-0812975147|
Historical Mystery (Late 19th C Russia)|
More at Amazon.com|
Beth E. McKenzie|