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Vassily Belikov, composer and pampered son of privilege, suffered neurological damage in the accident that killed his father. Resentful of being treated as an invalid, he lives as a recluse, dependent on his mother. That changes the day she brings home a new husband with two sons of his own.
When deep-space pirates capture Vassily’s mother, he’s left to the mercy of his cruel, amoral stepfather. Fighting addiction and his physical shortcomings, he’s forced to seek out the criminal mastermind Baba Yaga for a crucial piece of equipment. While she agrees to deal with him if he beats his Exoticus addiction, paranoia and mysterious intentions infuse her household. Drawn to her fierce, suspicious youngest son, certain his actions are all carefully observed, Vassily must find the courage to face both his fears and his desires if he expects to survive.
Because those good old folk and fairy tales seldom starred gay knights in shining armor and twinky princes, here we have a M/M adaption of the old Russian fairytale ‘Vasilisa the Beautiful’ for your reading pleasure!
Like most heroines in the Cinderella type of stories from your youth, poor Vasilisa had to endure hell and hatred when her mother died and her father remarried an evil woman. In this story by Martinez, Vasilisa has become a Vassily, but has otherwise lost none of his beauty. This time, it’s the mother who makes the unfortunate decision that will land her son into the frying pan. For reasons unfathomable to anyone except fairytale characters, she remarries a man from outer space with a shady past. When he enters the household and she’s captured by deep-space pirates, Vassily gets pushed into the fire.
Now in a story that’s a bundle of fairy tale, science fiction, romance and comedy, it’s almost easy to forget about the actual MCs. But Vassily might be a weakling who struggles with disability, and on top of that is turned into a pathetic druggie by his stepfather, he’s also an endearing young man. And you can only cheer him on when he finds himself in the clutches of Baba Yaga (yes!) and her three ‘sons’, including the outwardly cantankerous and violent youngest one.
Granted, this story is a bit of a peculiar mixture of elements, at the same time lacking a greater scheme of things. What plot there is, is not entirely convincing as certain subplots don’t add up or, if you like, only add to the sense of drifting through a story that’s ‘neither fish nor flesh’. Whether you will enjoy Vassily the Beautiful will therefore probably depend on your willingness to accept the fairytale-esque influences and the richness of ideas (the world building for example) that are superficially developed. The first half of the book does pile up the drama quite a bit and the second half is more like a sweet Cinderfella tale with an, albeit abrupt, but matching ending.
Vassily The Beautiful is more than that though. Especially if you enjoy two vulnerable and damaged individuals finding and fixing each other against a hodgepodge backdrop, it has a lot to offer. Read it, too, if you’re looking for a less cut-out A to Z romance this time. Or for the quirky characters. For me the ‘sons’ were almost a little too ‘comical’, but partly robotic characters, a fiercely protective drag queen and a centuries old grandma AKA crime boss have to count for something, right?
Title: Vassily The Beautiful
Author: Angel Martinez
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books LLC
Release Date: June 11th 2014 (originally released in 2012)
Purchase Links: Smashwords