Once you master the art of pronouncing both Russian and Czech surnames, this novel will entrance you. Set in Siberia, its cast of castrates, murderers, soldiers and love-lorn females is completely enthralling. The structure ensures that the plot moves along very well and keeps what can seem a complicated novel fairly easy. Siberia is captured perfectly and the descriptive language makes you feel the cold seep through your bones. It's cold, bleak, forlorn but also passionate and political especially with undertones of the Russian Revolution still prevalent.
The four men kneeled in front of me and began to pray. At intervals I was given responses to make. Anna, these I cannot tell you; they are the most secret words. The men stood. One of the apprentices held my arms behind my back; the other two held the ankles of my open legs. Chanov bent over me, lifted my member with his left hand, and brought the knife down quickly with the other. In that one moment, it seemed God turned his face away, and the fear smothered the joy.