Genre: Fiction, Mental-illness, Abuse.
Year Of Publication: 30th October 2014
Publisher: Ksenia Anske
Pages: 262 (Paperback)
My rating: 5/5
“The mouse clings to the cage.The sea in front of it is beaks and teeth and hooves and fins and claws.They roar and snarl and crawl toward it,And then they see the butterfly. It flitters up and over them but it doesn’t reach the mouse.The jackal jumps and clamps it in its jaws.The mouse loses its grip,plummets down.The mob is upon it,biting,stinging,jabbing.The howl of the jackal makes them part to let it through.”
Irina Myshko stopped talking when she was two years old.
Sixteen,pregnant and penniless she decides to run away.
Anything to escape the abuse she endures at home.
Sadly the outside world isn’t as inviting as she’d thought it’d be.
Soon she finds herself surrounded by the very people she’s trying to escape.
Through resilience and sheer luck she finds a friend in Pavlik.
And refuge in a theater in communist Russia.
But how long does she have before her life spirals out of control and she loses touch with reality once and for all………
While I had a vague idea about what this book was about I hadn’t known that it would be such an emotional rollercoaster (no wonder it took me so long to write this review).
Irkadura is set in communist Russia.
As a child Irina Myshko was abused by her alcoholic mother and her various boyfriends. To cope with the everyday atrocities she stopped talking.
She began seeing everyone as animal incarnations of their human traits – for example: her abusive step-father was the Boar, her alcoholic mother was a Catfish and she was a Mouse.
Then she began to have premonitions.
When something bad was about to happen she’d be able to foresee it.
“I’m not mad! I simply have this —” I nibble on the pen.
“First comes a noise,an animal noise,like a harbinger.Then I see them, the beasts,in the streets,on the roofs, or in the place where something will happen.”
In the book Irina a.k.a Irkadura is trying to escape her past.
But the world has other plans.
After escaping from her chaotic life at home she falls into the hands of Vladimir “Vova’ Kuzmich a.k.a Shakalov (the Jackal) who rapes her repeatedly.
“His ears shoot up,wool sprouts on his chin and cheeks and creeps up his forehead.His limbs fold and his nails curl and blacken.The steps under my feet crumble to dirt and walls bend into a narrow cavern reeking of animal feces.Roots snatch at my hair and grit fills my eyes and mouth and it smells of damp earth.”
Living under constant fear and hatred of him she finds solace with Pavlik (the Butterfly).Too bad he doesn’t feel the same way about her since he’s gay.
But when certain events lead him to find out about Irina’s pregnancy he decides to take her home to stay with his family – helping her, while making sure his family doesn’t find out his secret.
Sadly things take a turn for the worse and his family despise her.
Then the threats begin to arrive.
Word has gotten out that Pavlik is gay.
His parents decide to send him abroad to escape the death threats.
But Pavlik has other ideas…..
He wants to marry Irina and provide her a safe haven.
Alas, due to a cruel twist of fate Irina finds herself once again alone and afraid.
Contemplating about the meaningless existence of her life.
Irkadura is “unapologetically dark and unflinchingly real”. Ksenia Anske made sure no one would sleep peacefully after reading her book.
While reading Irkadura we get insight into how Irina’s defense mechanism works with the aid of magical realism ;which helps her cope with the horrible things going on around her.
I felt sorry for Irina. All alone with no support system (no wonder she felt so depressed).
I have to add here that I HATED the men in this book- they were either passive, abusive or manipulative. Hating most of the male characters in a book is pretty unusual for me but I’ll justify myself by saying that they had no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
(I do have a soft spot for Pavlik but I’m not sure if I like him completely yet…)
I definitely recommend Irkadura if you’re okay with reading books that deal with abuse and suicide but provide deeper meaning and insight about why things happen the way they happen.
Ksenia Anske has become one of my favourite authors this year!
If you’d like to read Irkadura head on over to her website and grab yourselves a copy -you can either buy one or read it for free!
Now go read her book ASAP so we can discuss it in the comments down below!
*I was sent this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.