Saturday, September 17, 2005


For the past couple of weeks, I've been in what I call Full Fragmentation Mode. Which is to say, prepping for Australia, mind racing a mile-a-minute, and pretty much bouncing back and forth between five or six different books, unlikely to finish any until I get some peace and quiet.

But one of these, Rosa and the Veil of Gold, by Kim Wilkins struck me as necessary to blog about now, since it's being released in Australia this month. And because it's a bit different from the same-old-same-old. But, knowing I'd never finish it before we left, I passed it on to Ann, who is good deal calmer, and she did finish it--and has reviewed it below.

Kim Wilkins and I are on a panel at the Brisbane Writers Festival, which should be fun. She's been called "Australia's queen of the supernatural" by the Daily Telegraph, which is all very good but seems the least of her virtues as a writer.

The Courier-Mail comes a bit closer to describing Wilkins' effects...

Like a set of Russian dolls, the book contains layers of secrets, which make Rosa and the Veil of Gold arguably the most captivating of the Europa Suite. This is the last in the three-book series, which have independently explored German, Norse and now Russian mythology.

... but doesn't quite pull the trigger. Dear readers, what we have here is a book that fuses Russian myth, a thriller-quest adventure, magic, and a few echoes of Angela Carter. Which is to say, it's thoroughly absorbing from what I've read thus far.

Who is Kim Wilkins? Kim Wilkins was born in London and grew up in Brisbane. She has degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing. The Infernal won the 1997 Aurealis Awards for Best Horror Novel and Best Fantasy Novel. In 2000 The Resurrectionists won the Aurealis Award for Best Horror Novel, while Angel of Ruin won this award in 2001. Kim lives in Brisbane, Queensland.

Reviewed by Ann VanderMeer

Kim William’s Rosa and the Veil of Gold is a mysterious and engrossing adventure. This journey takes place in today’s real world (Mir) as well as the fantastical other world of Russian folktales (Skazki).

Rosa, a beautiful woman with interests in both the mundane and magical worlds of current day Russia, convinces an ex-lover, Daniel, to assist her Uncle Vasily in determining the value of a mysterious golden bear found during a real estate development project. Daniel, a timid, self conscious Englishman, is still in love with Rosa. He travels with his co-worker and fellow Brit, the professional and seemingly cold-hearted Em, to seek an expert’s opinion on the bear.

During their trip they cross over the veil into the magical land of Russian fairy tales and encounter all kinds of wonders and dangers. The golden bear is at the heart of their adventures as it seeks to be reunited with its rightful owner. Rosa is drawn into the quest when she decides to follow Daniel and Em, tapping into her own long suppressed magical abilities in the process. The author skillfully interjects relevant Russian history and includes quotes from the Russian that she translated herself.

This novel beautifully combines the realistic and the magical. It features strong female characters in Em and Rosa, who are confident and self-assured, yet all too human. The transformations of all three main characters as they travel between the two worlds makes this book more than an adventure tale filled with frightening and enlightening revelations. The result is an unusual and unpredictable melding of the traditional and the strange that I thoroughly enjoyed.


At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that sounds exactly like what I've been looking to read lately.

/me goes and finds a copy.

At 11:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife recently read the book, as she has all of Kims. She was full of praise for it.
However, she is a little confused about the ending.

If someone could give a short synopsis on what the ending would me much appreciated.

At 4:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book - the skill with which she wove the different story lines was breathtaking. I, too was slightly confused at the end, but maybe the conclusions I draw from it will shed some light on it for others.

Rosa knew that if the bear was returned to its rightful owner, the worlds would become separate for ever. Koschey didnt want this to happen, as it would mean his adopted child would return to the world of Mir, and consequently die. Rosa is also aware that she will develop Alzheimers if she returns to Mir, a fate which she is willing to do anything to prevent. She realises that if she leaves the worlds interlinked, she can enslist Koschey's help, to move her soul into another body. Koschey does this for her, and Rosa's soul replaces Elizavetta's, which is weak and dying anyway - in doing this Rosa can avoid developing Alzheimer's.

Sorry about the lack of names and possible misinterpretations, I don't have the book on hand at the moment and read it a while ago, but that was my basic understanding of the ending.

At 11:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


thats basicall it yeah.

Everyone gets some form of a happy ending execept for Anastasia.

Even em who has one the best deaths i have ever read in my life.

Rosa could have stayed in Stazki where she would never develop Alzhemers as your true death can never find you.

But instead it is strongly hinted that Elisavettas soul is realesed so she can be with her dead lover, and rosa takes her body instead so she can be with daniel.

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Trip Advisor said...

this book is not the best of KIM WILKINS but still one good book to read
thanks Jeff
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