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I purchased this book because I enjoy historical fiction and this was recommended to me by amazon since I had another book by the author on my wish list. I find Russian history quite interesting after doing about it in school, and the price of the book helped matters at £1.40 with delivery included!
The story is set in Stalin's communist Russia so it has been quite a few years since the revolution occurred. It helps to have a vague knowledge of what happened in Russia, but if you don't you will probably be able to work it out from the things which are mentioned in the novel. Stalin set up labour camps and sent 'enemies of the state' there which could really be anybody who he disliked or made the slightest remark against the country or its leaders.
The story starts off in one of the mentioned labour camps, and it is described in great detail - it appears horrific, the women the story centres around are horribly oppressed and they aren't sure how much longer they will be able to go on for. However they keep going through the friendships that they form since they are all in it together, and Sofia and Anna are almost like sisters. Anna keeps them going by telling stories of a lost love she had before she was sent to the camp, called Vasily. Sofia decides to escape, realising it will be the only way to save Anna who is now very ill, and goes off to find Vasily!
I did enjoy this book though it didn't actually meet my expectations since it had a lot of very high reviews on the amazon page. It was good, but it had a lot of promise at the start and then deteriorated; it began as proper historical fiction then at the end it seemed like the author just couldn't be bothered anymore and just started writing in the style of chick lit, similar to Louise Bagshawe or someone like that - not that I'm saying anything bad about them, it just shows the novels inconsistency. There were also a lot of characters to keep track of! However I thought the author was very good at describing the Russian setting, it really came to life. You can currently buy it for £2.49 on amazon or used for £1.25.
'Under a Blood Red Sky' is written by author Kate Furnivall and is set in Russia during the Russian Revolution and early Communist Era. I was drawn to this book because it sounded not only dramatic being set in Stalinist Russia, but also action packed with a hefty bit of romance thrown in too. I had grand plans of this being a very good book to relax on a weekend or on holiday with.
Sofia and Anna are in the Davinsky Labour Camp which is a barbaric place in the depths of Siberia, where many women are sent whether for being outspoken against Communism or even just coming from a wealthy family. Sofia and Anna keep each other company and tell stories of their lives in order to keep each other's spirits up and in particular Anna tells her about the boy she grew up with, Vasily, who was her childhood sweetheart and initially all for the Revolutionary cause.
Anna falls very ill though and Anna decides that in order to save her friend, she must escape from the remote work camp and go to the remote village Tivil to find Vasily, whom Anna says is living there under a false name.
Anna has to not only escape and find Vasily, but keep herself safe throughout her dangerous quest. On her journey, though, Anna is hard pushed to not let her own desires get in the way of helping her friend, and she finds her loyalties are often divided.
As an easy reading holiday book, I thought this was a decent enough effort - it's not a very complicated book at all, and although set in another time, it's very easy to get to grips with the plot and characters.
I found the book flowed well and the places and goings on during 'Under a Blood Red Sky' were easy to imagine as they were all so well described, particularly the work camp and the villages under Stalin's rule, which sounded particularly horrific.
The only real downside to the book was the annoying nature of some of the characters, as many of their actions didn't seem to make sense, and there were also some plot holes that weren't tidied up by the author. Sofia in particular descended into a typical mushy romance heroine, who became quite predictable. The ending, too, felt rushed and everything seemed to draw to a tidy and unrealistic conclusion very quickly, which didn't seem right considering everything which had just happened!
Although decent enough for a quick, forgetable read on a weekend or on holiday, I felt that this book could have been better with more diverse and realistic characters.