Daughter from the Dark

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Feb 2020

Member Reviews

An interesting fantasy novel I had trouble getting into it but was able to finish i think the authors writing style is just not for me
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DJ Aspirin has a fine life hosting a radio show by day and performing as a DJ at clubs at night. But his world is turned upside down when a strange young girl takes up residence in his apartment and refuses to leave until she finds her long-lost brother. 

The Dyachenkos are back. Or rather, the English version of the Dyachenkos are back. It will never not rankle that the Russian-speaking public get to read all their works while we English-speaking losers have to make do with the shreds that Harper Collins has bothered to get translated. (Hey, Harper Collins, please translate the sequel to Vita Nostra. Please, please, please.)

Like Vita Nostra, Daughter from the Dark dives straight into the weird and refuses to answer questions. Who and what is Alyona? Where did she come from? Who is the bare footed man who tries to take her away early on? But because it’s the Dyachenkos, it’s fine that questions don’t get answered, even preferable. The Dyachenkos excel at giving us a taste of the weird and then letting us form our own conclusions.

It’s interesting how Vita Nostra and Daughter from the Dark begin in the same way: a perfectly average person who is completely happy with their average life is suddenly confronted with someone who is not quite human, someone who disrupts their average life in bizarre and sometimes violent ways. I wonder if this is the overall theme of the Dyachenkos’ work: that we should never settle for average but instead push ourselves and strive for something greater, something beyond human, even if it nearly kills us. In the Dyachenkos’ world, happiness is overrated. Accomplishment is everything.

One of the main conflicts of Daughter from the Dark is over music: Aspirin plays bad pop music on his radio show and entertains club crowds remixing existing songs. To Aspirin, radio pop music is a way of paying the bills but DJing at clubs is true performance, an act of creativity that plays with the audience’s emotions and brings them under his sway. To Alyona, playing someone else’s music is akin to spitting in the face of creativity. Not being creative is almost a sin, and a total waste of opportunity and ability. Who is right? Aspirin is such a flawed character that it’s easy to side with Alyona on principal. But Aspirin’s DJ scenes are so similar to Alyona’s pied piper violin playing that it’s difficult not to draw parallels. Perhaps they are both right.

Side note, but the Dyachenkos make Russia seem bleak as hell. Is life there really so depressing? No wonder the authors moved to California.

My main complaint is that Aspirin’s character arc is really all over the place. In one scene, he’s kinder and more sympathetic to others. In the next, he’s attempting to physically toss a child out the door. He’s a yo-yo of emotion and desires. It’s difficult to say what Aspirin really wants at any one point in the book. Because Alyona is a largely flat character, a good chunk of the book hinges on Aspirin’s character arc being satisfactory – which it’s frankly not.

Still, Daughter from the Dark is an engrossing and fascinating read, and one I will be thinking about for a long time afterwards. And seriously, Harper Collins, translate more of the Dyachenkos’ books. 

 I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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While I didn't love every moment of this book, I loved the atmosphere. It was a little gothic in the sense that you knew something darker was looming somewhere, but the writing and sweep of the story never quite give anything away in clear light. 
Alexey is DJ Aspirin and one night he stumbles upon a little girl in danger with her teddy bear. After that, his life is filled with terror, bloodshed, random bouts of intense selfishness, odd strangers, school shopping, an incredible amount of violin and piano practice, and some interludes of fatherly worry. While he occasionally falls fully into child abuse, he's still a sort of likable dude set into some seriously weird circumstances.
As I mentioned before, I didn't love the book's every moment. I loved the rush of potential in the first half, but by the middle and later third, I was frustrated by Alexey's bad behavior and felt almost stuck in this hazy reality. I understood the desire to shake someone until they gave you answers, but by the end I was so used to being unfulfilled that the ending, while it wasn't bad, still left me with that taste in my mouth. It felt a little like a Twilight Zone episode set in modern day Russia, but perhaps one that went a little too long in the day-to-day moments when the action scenes were the better story. 
I also wonder if perhaps my dislike of the parent-ish figure to child dynamic here was partially a cultural thing as well? It felt very different from the sort of outright bad behavior normally depicted in a bad parent role, but it still felt a little jarring and possibly might be a trigger warning for someone.
All in all, I'm not sorry I read it, and I think the ending was a clever touch, but it isn't a story I'll seek out to reread again. 

Disclaimer: I received an advanced digital copy of the book in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley.
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I loved their early book and I loved this new stand-alone novel from this duo. A fascinating looking to the Russian mindset beyond the  plot of the metaphysic, surrealistic trials and tribulations of a young woman. The book really kept me guessing!
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I love these writers! This isn't the type of book I would ever normally pick up but they hook me every single time. I love how you spend the entire book questioning the sanity of everyone involved including yourself. Y'all I was mad my car got done with it's oil change so fast and then passed up shopping at the nicest mall in Dallas to go home and finish this book. This is not normal behavior.

The characters are well developed, the world feels normal but then again maybe it isn't and the whole thing leaves you not really knowing who you love and who you hate. Also, I have never had more conflicted feelings about a teddy bear, not even Teddy Ruxpin. (He's creepy BUT he reads to you. What to feel?)
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While this didn't have the full throttle what-is-HAPPENING factor of Vita Nostra, this book was still satisfyingly weird. The mental gymnastics that Aspirin went through to justify said weirdness could be a little bit exhausting at times, but in general I thought that the book's black humor helped to make the more repetitive bits readable. I was actually surprised by how funny it was - and by how much I ended up like Aspirin.

The ending, much like Vita Nostra, was, unfortunately, not quite up to snuff with the rest of the book, however. It was satisfying enough (especially as far as Aspirin's character development was concerned) but it still felt like there should have been more to it. That said, I don't think the ending undercut the enjoyment I got from the majority of the book, so I would definitely recommend it - especially if you're not sure about making the commitment to Vita Nostra and want to see if the authors' style is right for you.
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I gave this a 3.5 stars. I was given the opportunity to read this early copy through Netgalley. The premise of this book sounded so good and I did like it. But throughout the book it was very confusing and psychologically twisting. For me it felt like I couldn’t tell what was happening or what was real. If you enjoy psychological twisting stories then definitely give this a try!! It was good and kept me on my toes.
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As with all of the Dyachenko stories, there was a surrealist fairytale vibe interspersed in a visceral, dark atmosphere. What I like about their books is the complexity of the characters - both loveable and difficult to relate to. There isn't a "perfect" character, they are raw and real, which helps build to the modern setting of the story or speak to a modern audience. 

As for the story itself -it's bizarre and difficult to fully explicate. But, I liked it.  Prose, here, is unencumbered by unnecessary fluff. The directness both adds to the startling atmosphere and allows the story to progress quickly. It also serves to craft a  dreamlike aura where the reader isn't clued into every detail (Not quite like Vita Nostra, though).

It's quick-paced, thought-provoking, intriguing and deftly handles interpersonal interaction. There's also music. 
Be ready to embrace the weird, you'll love it. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review.
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This is a weird novel.  It has pieces of magical realism, horror, and mystery all wrapped up in one.  Who is Alyona?  Where does she come from?  What does she want?  What will she do?  These are all questions that are raised from this reading.  While the book is told from DJ Aspirin's point of view, it is most decidedly a book about Alyona.

The prose is simple and direct and used to create a foggy atmosphere while reading.  It put me in the mind of "Let the right one in" by Ajivde Lindqvist.  The heavy weight of the subject matter is laid bare in this way, but there is still a sense of wonder and foreboding.
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**Full review to be posted to Amazon, Goodreads, my blog, and NetGalley closer to publication!**

I read and utterly fell in love with the Dyachenkos' book Vita Nostra last year, so when I saw they had another book translated into English coming out next year, I knew I had to read it. Daughter from the Dark is extremely different from Vita Nostra in a lot of ways, but it still maintains that sense of oddness that was so present in Vita Nostra that I loved so much. I'm still not entirely sure what to make of what I read in Daughter from the Dark, but it's easily one that I keep thinking about. The characters were fascinating and different from anything I've read before, the writing was clean and succinct, yet constantly full of mystery, and the plot was something I've never seen done before. Definitely check this one out if you are a fan of anything from Sergey and Marina Dyachenko, I know I plan to pick up everything I can by them and I hope they keep getting translated!
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Part fairy tale, part horror story.  DJ Aspirin helps a girl in the street and gets sucked into a weird world where he becomes her father.  At first, he treats her brutality, which adds to the horror of the story.   

Music plays a key role in this tale.  The girl must learn to play a perfect song to find her brother.  Whenever she practices this song, people get agitated and something weird happens.  

Although strange, this left me with a lot to think about once I’d finished the ending. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review.
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Having read Maria and Sergey Dyanchencko's Vita Nostra twice earlier this year, I knew to expect the unexpected with this twisted tale of a DJ, a little girl , and her teddy bear. After Aspirin finds 11 year old Alyona in an alley and brings her home nothing is ever the same for either of them. Who is she really? A lost little girl? One who ran away? Perhaps she even is Aspirin's unknown daughter. Either way she convinces Aspirin she must stay through a combination of threats, verbally and from the dark plastic eyes of the teddy bear she is rarely without. 

This book has the haunting feel of a fairy tale about it. Details about the world are left murky. We question the reality of the situation from Aspirin's point of view. Is what he seeing really true? Where did Alyona really come from and from what little she says, is it really the truth? Many details are left unsaid which only adds to the mystery surrounding the entire situation. 

At times I felt both incredibly frustrated with both Aspirin and Alyona. I'm not sure what I would do if I suddenly found myself an unwilling recipient to the manipulations of a small house guest. The cruelty Aspirin often expresses towards Alyona and her furry companion is difficult to stomach at times. He's being pushed to his limits, which doesn't forgive certain actions or disregard for this little girl. 

This was a strange, odd, and magical read. One that I was glad to read. The music and mystery woven through the pages kept me drawn in, often very late at night when I couldn't get the book out of my head and needed to keep reading.
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This is OK -- a little to weird for me. I like the concepts and uses of music in the story, which is quite unique and imaginative. I suspect most fantasy fans will enjoy this.

I really appreciate the copy for review!
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Thanks to NetGalley for a Kindle ARC of Daughter from the Dark.

I'm not a usual reader of sci-fi/fantasy genre novels but Daughter from the Dark had such an intriguing premise, I had to request it, and was pleased when it was approved.

Sadly, Daughter from the Dark did not meet our expectations.

There was a lack of world building, and what little details we are given, there was no further exposition or information offered to the reader.

A small amount of ambiguity is fine, I can live with that and let my imagination fill in the rest, but there needs to be a decent description of the place Alyona comes from, how her brother was lost and who her mysterious 'handler' is.

Alyona was a decent character, yet I wasn't drawn to her. That might have been due to the lack of background. 

DJ Aspirin was incredibly unlikable; I get it, he's a young man only concerned with clubbing, sowing his oats, partying and living the high life. No problems. But his behavior when he finds a troubled young girl made me wonder if he wasn't also a bit of a sociopath.

He exhibited acts of violence toward Alyona I was incredibly uncomfortable with; there are plenty of scenes of complete disregard for her welfare.

I realize she is a stranger, a possible thief and con artist, but any decent human being would be supportive and protective of an abandoned child whose only companion is a stuffed teddy bear.

The only character I liked was the teddy and he didn't even speak.

The ending was just as confounding as the narrative itself; there are more questions than answers.

Alyona is a special, unique and talent child but why did she choose Aspirin as an ally? 

There was too many questions, poor character development and a lack of world building.

The science fiction/fantasy elements were all there; they just weren't used to their full effect.
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I loved this book and am so grateful for the opportunity to review it.
Daughter from the Dark hooked me in fast. This story starts out with the sometimes loveable and sometimes disgraceful DJ Aspirin ( AKA Alexey), who stumbles upon an adolescent girl hiding by the street on his walk home. All she has to her name are the clothes on her back and a very unique teddy bear. When Alexey has a dog set upon him by a group of teenagers nearby, the teddy bear seems to come alive to protect his owner and, unsurprisingly, scare Alexey. 
DJ Aspirin, Alexey, is used to being his own man. At age 34, he is a popular radio host and nightclub DJ. He is not prepared for life with an 11 year old girl, especially with THAT teddy bear, her claims that she is his daughter and other magical things that occurs as she begins to seriously learn how to play the violin. 
This is a beautiful tale about the magic of music and learning how to love again. Perhaps, when it comes down to it, us humans really do need each other and sometimes it takes some lessons to learn that. Not only is this about our need for each other, but our need for magic. Music really is a type of everyday magic. Something that we may not think of but we would be missing out on so much without it. Music really does create emotions in us, at least for me it truly does. And this story highlights that and also elaborates on that idea to create a stunning tale. 
I highly recommend this book for a quick and fascinating read!
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I am a very new fantasy fan, and I thought this one would be one I could get behind. It's a little too odd or out there for me, didn't finish. I suppose I need more gateway fantasy reads.
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