Conscripted into Norylska’s secret police, Katyushka juggles the expectations of her conventional life with a mystery that promises to get her killed. Meanwhile, Genndy plunges into the murderous underworld of Norylska, risking the only love he’s ever known for a chance to change his circumstances.
Both main characters are engaging and rounded, portrayed utilizing unique voices that set the noir tone. Characterization and prose were big strengths of this novel. In fact, it might sound trite, but Norylska felt like a third character in this book. The harsh truth of this place helped to define the other characters and to push, not so gently, on their choices.
I did find what I felt was a little plot hole which tripped me up a bit. But I haven’t heard anyone else mention it, so it’s obviously not a huge deal. In general, I liked the plot. A relatively simple set up on either side sets the MCs on a path that leads them into a spiral of self-destruction and violence. It’s well suited to the noir themes throughout Norylska Groans.
I devoured this book in short order. The writing felt crisp and compelling. I especially enjoyed Katyushka’s storyline, her struggle to evolve into something colder was like a reverse metaphor for the onset of Norlyska’s grim winter. Big Soviet existential gloom with Hollywood glitz moments here. Cinematic, brutal, and fast-paced. I quite enjoyed it.