A dark, compelling Russian fantasy with obvious comparisons to Harry Potter or The Magicians except it takes its own gritty approach to this territory. Sasha and her classmates are chosen, willing or not, to attend the Institute of Special Technologies and failure has it own dire consequences for their friends and family. I found myself drawn in by the original magic system; leave your wands and your reality at home.— Ben Parker
“One part coming-of-age parable and one part psychological horror, this book combines dark fantasy with contemporary magical realism, and I can’t stop thinking about the resulting magnificence weeks after finishing it. Beautifully translated from its original Russian, Vita Nostra brilliantly explores the period in early adulthood where we consider the price we’re willing to pay to discover our full potential, and how we make ourselves vulnerable when we strive for outside approval.”
— Ilana Darrant, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
“Vita Nostra” — a cross between Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians” and Elizabeth Kostova’s “The Historian” [...] is the anti-Harry Potter you didn’t know you wanted.” -- The Washington Post
“Vita Nostra has become a powerful influence on my own writing. It’s a book that has the potential to become a modern classic of its genre, and I couldn’t be more excited to see it get the global audience in English it so richly deserves.” -- Lev Grossman
Best Books of November 2018 -- Paste Magazine
The definitive English language translation of the internationally acclaimed Russian novel—a brilliant dark fantasy combining psychological suspense, enchantment, and terror that makes us consider human existence in a fresh and provocative way.
Our life is brief . . .
Sasha Samokhina has been accepted to the Institute of Special Technologies.
Or, more precisely, she’s been chosen.
Situated in a tiny village, she finds the students are bizarre, and the curriculum even more so. The books are impossible to read, the lessons obscure to the point of maddening, and the work refuses memorization. Using terror and coercion to keep the students in line, the school does not punish them for their transgressions and failures; instead, it is their families that pay a terrible price. Yet despite her fear, Sasha undergoes changes that defy the dictates of matter and time; experiences which are nothing she has ever dreamed of . . . and suddenly all she could ever want.
A complex blend of adventure, magic, science, and philosophy that probes the mysteries of existence, filtered through a distinct Russian sensibility, this astonishing work of speculative fiction—brilliantly translated by Julia Meitov Hersey—is reminiscent of modern classics such as Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, Max Barry’s Lexicon, and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale, but will transport them to a place far beyond those fantastical worlds.
Marina And Sergey Dyachenko, a former actress and a former psychiatrist, are the coauthors of twenty-eight novels and numerous short stories and screenplays. They were born in Ukraine, lived in Russia, and now live in the United States. Their books have been translated into several foreign languages and awarded multiple literary and film prizes, including the 2005 Eurocon award for Best Author. They live in Marina Del Rey, California.