Cover Image: The Silver Bone

The Silver Bone

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Member Reviews

I'd like to thank the publisher for providing me with an ARC.

I honestly felt that this book was just okay. It takes some time for the narrative to form. The characters are interesting but didn't feel like they were fully fleshed out. The story was a bit confusing.

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The Silver Bone was an enjoyable read! The characters are quirky and quite interesting and there are a few of them so it will be interesting to see where everyone will end up during the series! I have read other books by Andrey Kurkov. He has a unique writing style and you can definitely see that throughout this book! I'm looking forward to reading about Samson! Thank you Bibliolifestyle, Andrey Kurkov and Harper Via Books for sharing this book with me!

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Set in Kyiv at the end of WWI and the start of the Russian Civil War (1919), "The Silver Bone" follows Samson Kolechko as he navigates his first case as a detective. Just after WWI is over Samson and his father must deal with a new problem - the Red Army. Although the army saws off his ears and steals his house, Samson has a stroke of luck- some magic that will aid him greatly in his new career.

Kurkov beautifully writes Kyiv's new reality under the Communist weaving together a coming of age story and a thriller. I will most definitely pick up the next Kurkov book I come across.

Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for the eARC!

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Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Thank you, NetGalley and publishers.

The Silver Bone is set during the early 1900s in Kyiv, a time of unrest of all sorts. World War I is over but what peace there is is fragile. Samson loses an ear but his father loses his life. Suddenly alone, Samson finds himself hosting two Red Army soldiers, and he is drawn into a mystery and a new career with the police. Along the way he discovers his own principles and hope for the future, maybe even love, in his search for justice.

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The summary was far more interesting than the actual novel. The storytelling felt forced and there were far more jumps in logic than seemed to be justified. The lead character just did not hold my interest.

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Again, if it was not for Netgalley, I probably would not have read this book. And I do not regret reading this rather peculiar story.

The Silver Bone is an interesting mystery, thriller, and crime book. The main character is this young man who meets tragedy from the very beginning as his world in amdist turmoil and revolution after World War I has ended in the Ukraine. It would help to have some understanding of the political storm and the multiple powers that be that are trying to gain control for Ukraine, but I was easily able to follow the main story line quite fine. The MMC has to grow up quickly, learn to be smarter (street wise and book smart), and tries to develop a romantic relationship ALL while trying his best to solve a murder. Well, it's a crime that leads him to a murder, but either way, it's a who-dunnit at its bare bones. I'm curious how the next book will go and where it will lead the MMC.

Thank you Netgalley and HarperVia for the chance to read this translated story.

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With 19 books to his credit, Andrey Kurkov is one of Ukraine’s most celebrated authors. THE SILVER BONE is book one in a new series that falls loosely into the historical mystery category. There’s a strange mystical element that really doesn’t work well, IMO. Having the main character’s hacked off body part save him multiple times over the course of events was completely out of keeping with the rest of the story. It doesn’t jive with the character either. He’s an electrical engineer turned police detective, not a guy who lives on the fringe. The few references to vampires were also a stretch but at least they and the idea of them have a place in history and geography for this story.

Kurkov places the story around Kyiv in 1919, just after the official end of WWI - it’s a time of huge upheaval and change in Ukraine. This is well described and integrated into the story. He also includes a timeline of actual history at the end of the book, for those wanting more depth in a concise format. The translation is good, from Russian to English, with only a few clunky passages, none of which will affect understanding or cause the need to go back and reread.

Lots of characters populate this story. Since this is the start of a series, it will be interesting to see who returns, besides Samson, Nadezhda, (his love interest), the yard sweepers widow, (his landlord/closest neighbor), and Kholodny, his partner, the priest turned cop/detective. The primary characters were developed slowly, like the entire book. Second and third tier cast has many candidates to be featured in future volumes.

For English speaking readers, the Russian/Ukraine names are tough going at the start but I turned them into nicknames to simplify them for myself. The same was true for streets and some locations. The prose is a combination of descriptive and stage directions; very detailed.

Dialogue is not the driver for the story because the characters don’t really have relationships; they function independently, for the most part. Kurkov makes use of self speak/think to reveal character history and Samson, the main character, does a lot of pondering.

I was expecting this story to be rough in terms of violence, and language; typical of this genre. I was pleasantly surprised to find one f-bomb, (that was totally unnecessary), 1 divine epithet and a handful of soft expletives. The violence level is 3/10 with no graphic descriptions, zero sexual content with romance hardly an issue; PG rated, for sure.

The title of the book is also the subject of the mystery that’s being solved; it’s odd. For most of the book, the subject is totally ignored. When Samson begins to work it out seriously, I really don’t care. That’s mostly because of the incongruous elements I mentioned at the start of this review. There’s nothing inherently bad just something feels “off”. Perhaps it’s first book issues. I’d be willing to try volume two as long as the hacked body part gets edited out📚

Read & Reviewed from a PW Grab A Galley GiveAway, with thanks

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Not sure if it was the translator or the original story but this one just didn't do it for me. It was very slow. The author did a good job of depicting life in Kylv in the early 20th century but the not much happened to the characters, and I found myself not particularly caring about what happened to any the characters. I'm sure there is an audience for this book but I can't really recommend it.

Thanks to NetGalley and HarperVia for an advanced reader copy.

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I just finished this book from. NetGalley copy and after a bit of a slow start it really took off and I was into it. The characters were so fully fleshed and described. The scenery and surroundings were written so well it’s like I was watching a movie. I highly recommend this book

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I was really excited upon starting this one. We had an early 1900’s setting, political unrest, and a hint of magic. But unfortunately this did not end up working for me. The small magical tidbit turned out not have much bearing on the story, and everything felt very chaotic. So much going on I could never fully get my bearings. I just felt like this had the potential to be a story I loved but the way it was presented did not turn out to be something I enjoyed.

I received an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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In the mad, violent days of the Bolshevik Revolution and Russian Civil War, Samson Kolechko finds himself with two near-impossible tasks. The first task is to stay alive—easier said than done in the Kyiv of 1919. The second task is to turn himself into a police detective as quickly as possible. Andrey Kurkov’s The Silver Bone begins with Samson’s first (and certainly not last) brush with death and gallops headlong into a tale of corruption, terror, and absurd weirdness. Boris Dralyuk does sterling work translating this odd, often funny, wild tale.

The first bit of weirdness is Samson’s ear. Samson loses his ear (and his father) to the flailing saber of a Cossack. Samson retrieves his ear in the hopes that a doctor can reattach it. This is beyond the skills and resources of the first doctor Samson finds but, in a weird bit of luck, Samson discovers that his ear can allow him to hear what’s going on wherever he tucks the thing away. Samson’s lucky ear saves the young man’s life again when he overhears the two Red Army soldiers who’ve been billeted in his family’s apartment plotting to kill him. Honestly, it’s just one thing after another for Samson and we can only hope that his luck holds out long enough for the chaos swirling around the city of Kyiv to settle down.

Samson is an upright young man, the kind of man you have to worry about in situations where pragmatism and judicious rule-bending would probably be the wisest course. Being an upright young man, Samson decides to report the two soldiers to the local police instead of heading for the hills. This act impresses Nayden, the officer in charge of the local police station, who offers Samson a job on the spot: to investigate the two Red Army soldiers-turned thieves and would-be murderers. More than once, I suspect, Nayden regrets giving the post to a man who doesn’t know when to call a case closed.

The Silver Bone is a parade of characters, from the Soviet-minded statistician Nadezhda to ex-priest-turned-policeman Kholodny to eccentric surgeons and mad foreigners. The little character studies of these loons make for entertaining breaks in between rumors of the various factions fighting for the city, the blackouts (the local power plant has to burn wood to make electricity), and the increasingly Kafkaesque bureaucracy. Readers who appreciate characters who have to make their way in a world turned upside down will enjoy this madcap adventure. I hope to see Samson and Nadezhda again soon.

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This mystery is set in Kyiv, the Ukraine. The Ukrainian author writes his non-fiction books in Ukrainian, and his fiction books in Russian, an interesting dichotomy during the war. Sampson, the main character, faces his own war as the city becomes increasingly militarized after WWI as factions vie for control. Part magical realism, very much so a murder mystery, a dash of romance, and an ear-less amateur detective. What better combo to start a series with!

Kurkov writes with such historical detail about a lesser examined aspect of antebellum Ukraine - well, less examined for Americans. I enjoyed the historical basis as much as the intrigue and plot!

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Thanks to NetGalley for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Although half a world away, current events in Russia and Ukraine made it all too easy to immediately understand the world in which Samson and the other characters lived over a hundred years ago. Kurkov (and the translator - what a great translation) hits us immediately with the horror of it by having us witness the death of Samson's father and experiencing the loss of his own ear with him. This, along with the attention to detail, such as when describing the abacuses, was simple but effective in carrying me to the past to further immerse myself in the story.
I don't want to give too much away, but even if you're not a fan of historical fiction, you may find yourself enjoying the intrigue (and a little romance) while accidentally learning something about the experiences of the Russian Civil War.

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Andrey Kurkov is one of Ukraine’s greatest authors, with over 19 novels to date. The Silver Bone is his latest translated work and is set to be the first in a mystery series. Following WWI and the Russian Revolution, Kyiv in 1919 is beleaguered by different factions wanting control. In this absurdist novel of dark humor, Samson Kolechko’s career is on hold and his life tossed about by circumstances beyond his limits.

Cossacks attack with sabers on the street, killing his father and cutting Samson’s ear off. Back home and grieving his losses, he is now the last remaining member of his family. He wraps his severed ear, placing it in his father’s desk. When his home is requisitioned for two Red Army soldiers, his ear in the drawer, independent of himself, hears what the soldiers are plotting.

When his father’s desk has been mistakenly requisitioned, Samson heads for the police station to reclaim it. He finds that filling out the paperwork will not accomplish anything; his ear remains in the drawer. The police force has been mostly dismantled, and there is no one to use the desk, so the director hires Samson. Someone to track down criminals and restore a resemblance of order is sorely needed. The desk is now his. He can start by investigating what the two soldiers are doing with stolen goods stashed in his home – goods only made of silver. When he finds a life-size femur made of silver, he hunts down why this oddity was crafted.

This is a delightfully dark novel – refreshing, unique, comical. Kurkov introduces us to many quirky characters as Samson makes his way around Kyiv. He is a character that is so inimitable and loveable, I am happily looking forward to his further adventures in investigation. I’m sure his ear will be able to assist when needed.

Historical Novels Review, February 2024

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I just loved this book.

Kurkov is amazing, but Kurkov and Dralyuk together are sublime. Kurkov provides the whimsy through his quirky characters that don't seem to fit in a gritty atmosphere, but are all the more welcome because of it. We cozy up to them; they are ports in a storm. And Dralyuk offers his own brand of whimsy through an extremely playful choice of English words that hints at self-deprecation, but is actually draped in self-awareness of his craft that never approaches cockiness.

Really looking forward to more in this series.

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Very well paced historical mystery, set in Ukraine in 1919 as six factions fight for control of the country. Samson, a young man studying electrical engineering, finds himself alone after Cossacks slay his father and cut off Samson's ear. There's a bit of magical realism to the mystery, as well as a bit of coming-of-age as Samson navigates Kyiv's new reality under the Communists and finds himself employed as a police detective. Highly enjoyable with a great sense of atmosphere.

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I struggled to get into this book.
I think for the right audience this would really keep a reader curious and interested, but for some reason something was missing for me.
The characters were well developed and likable. I just really couldn’t get into the time period.
This is kind of a historical fiction in a mystery. If that’s your jam, you will love this book!

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*Honestly* this was not my cup of tea. I don't know if I just struggled due to not knowing much of the background/historical aspect or what. I have read a lot of slow burns lately and I feel like this was bit of a slow burn. It is set in Kyiv after the First World War and follows the life of a young man who becomes an investigator for the local police. It is a murder mystery- ish. Overall, it was an okay read. Not necessarily anything memorable.

Thanks to NetGalley for an e-ARC of this book in return for an honest review.

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Many people hesitate to read stories about the Ukraine during the Great War because of the violence of the fighting between the Red Army and White Army. This is the period when communism was first introduced to Russia by sword and the ensuing confusion for the citizens made them face a time of unprecedented uncertainty. It is this period that Andrey Kurkov chooses to use as a backdrop for the first book of his series of detective stories, “The Silver Bone.”
Perhaps the consummate work of interlaced fact and fiction for the first score of the twentieth century is Isaac Babel’s “Red Cavalry.” It is easy to imagine that Kurkov uses this book as a guide in tapering the violence in “The Silver Bone.”
Through a series of events, Samson Kolechko finds himself working as a rookie detective at the Kyiv police station solving crimes under the able tutelage of Comrade Nayden. He has also acquired a love interest, Nadezhda, who works as a statistician for the government and comes to live with him after he removes the Red Army criminals, Anton Tsvigun and Fyodor Bravada from his residence.
In this era, money has become a fungible commodity and Kolechko offers payment of confiscated salt to Tailor Sivokon for his stitching prowess that is instrumental in solving a mystery. One wonders if Kolechko could successfully reward his business associates if it were not for Nayden’s understanding of theft and graft in early twentieth-century Russia.
“The Silver Bone” offers comedic insight into an emerging world of strange bedfellows literally and figuratively that yields the beginning of the country of Russia as we now know it.

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Atmospheric mystery set in post-WWI Ukraine as the Bolsheviks are taking over. Although it's not really a page-turner, the story has a classic feel to it. Liked watching Samson navigate through the various difficulties he faces and how he grows into his new job as a policeman.

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