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Erast Fandorin Mysteries #8

She Lover of Death: A Fandorin Mystery

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Naive young Masha Mironova arrives in Moscow at the turn of the century with a modest inheritance and a determination to shed her provincial Siberian upbringing. As soon as she alights in Moscow, she becomes Columbine, a reckless and daring young woman with eccentric outfits and a pet snake worn as a necklace. In her quest for danger and passion, Columbine soon discovers the Lovers of Death - a small group of poets enraptured by death who gather nightly at the home of their leader, the Doge, and conduct seances to determine death's next chosen lover. Once named at a seance, the chosen member must await three signs from death before taking his own life. The string of suicides resulting from the group have drawn attention, becoming fodder for extensive media coverage and widespread hysteria in Moscow. As the group's numbers dwindle, a mysterious newcomer appears. Revealed to the reader as Erast Fandorin thanks to the presence of his trusty Japanese sidekick, Fandorin begins to investigate the suicides while also trying to convince the members that death is neither beautiful nor poetic and should not be sought out. But will the gentleman detective be able to stop Columbine from taking action when she receives her three unmistakable signs? She Lover of Death is a fantastically entertaining murder mystery, where the murderer's weapons are trickery and psychological manipulation.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2001

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About the author

Boris Akunin

249 books1,455 followers
Real name - Grigory Shalvovich Chkhartishvili (Russian: Борис Акунин; Georgian: გრიგორი შალვას ძე ჩხარტიშვილი; Аlso see Grigory Chkhartishvili), born in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 1956. Since 1958 he lives in Moscow. Writer and translator from Japanese. Author of crime stories set in tsarist Russia. In 1998 he made his debut with novel Azazel (to English readers known as The Winter Queen), where he created Erast Pietrovich Fandorin.
B. Akunin refers to Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin and Akuna, home name of Anna Akhmatova, Russian poet.
In September of 2000, Akunin was named Russian Writer of the Year and won the "Antibooker" prize in 2000 for his Erast Fandorin novel Coronation, or the last of the Romanovs.
Akunin also created crime-solving Orthodox nun, sister Pelagia, and literary genres.
His pseudonyms are Анатолий Брусникин and Анна Борисова. In some Dutch editions he is also known as Boris Akoenin.

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5 stars
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38 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 109 reviews
Profile Image for Meike.
1,470 reviews2,300 followers
March 2, 2020
Russian poets found a suicide cult, mayhem ensues, various agents with different agendas try to end the ungodly epidemic - this is a rough summary of the plot of Akunin's mystery. This author is not only a very successful translator and writer of detective fiction, he is also an outspoken critic of Putin, and while "She Lover of Death" does not directly address the current political situation, the central theme is psychological manipulation, in this case the ability to convince people that death is an actual person who summons his disciples to a beautiful demise. Yes, the victims in this crime story do apparently kill themselves, they buy into a deception that is crafted in a way that appeals to their personal urges and longings - go figure. Btw: "Akunin" means "bad person" in Japanese, and B. Akunin refers to the Russian anarchist Michail Bakunin.

But back to the story: The plot largely revolves around a young woman from the Siberian province who comes to Moscow trying to re-invent herself as the mysterious "Columbine". Out of curiosity, she joins the suicide cult, the "Lovers of Death", and becomes the prime example showing the reader how a person comes to buy into such an outrageous scam. The story is partly written from her perspective, and in other parts composed of newspaper articles about the suicides and the club, of reports by an anonymous informant to the police and of a third-person narrative.

The changing form gives the novel a nice dynamic, altough the story does have some lenghts. Bit by bit, the author reveals the intentions of the club's doge and several members, questioning who the club members really are and what drives their behavior. In the end (and in classic style), we get a big reveal.

I really liked that this murder mystery contemplates psychological violence, and not by scaring or pressuring the victims, but by giving them something that is framed to appear like love, beauty and adventure, but in truth only follows a manipulative agenda that is all about power. In the middle section, the text offers some unnecessary detours that result in lenghts, the poems written by the cult members read like parodies of Andreas Gryphius' texts, and the female figures are not exactly painted in a progressive light, but this is a smart mystery that is fun to read.
Profile Image for Andy.
414 reviews67 followers
June 29, 2017
Back to the ever evolving Erast Fandorin series where the style changes from book-2-book with this one written through the eyes of a young girl (18 that is) who has jus left Irkutsk for the bright lights of Moscow society, inter-spliced with news clippings from a Moscow news reporter & reports from a “spy”! Our young lady is for reasons that soon become apparent the centre of attention & it’s her story that is front & centre in the early exchanges. Erast is no-where to be seen..... or is he??

It becomes apparent early on what the story is about so it’s no give away to say that death cults or suicide clubs, if you will, feature in this one & if you like poetry you’ll have an added bonus as works from Gandlevsky & Rubinstein feature throughout Akunin’s novel. The story is about the club, its members, events around said members, death.....yes the man with the scythe along with a few verses of poetry all through the diary of Columbine, she being the young lass. Its very different to any of his prior books in terms of style, others so far being pure mysteries or grand adventures but I admit I did find it surprisingly engaging throughout considering some of the subject matter. Erast is certainly on form!

I find that the writing gets smoother with each novel in this series & its great that there are many more to be read.

A grand series that I really enjoy, a clear 4 stars & onto the next which is book 9, He Lover of Death
Profile Image for Leo.
4,242 reviews383 followers
November 14, 2021
Found the audiobook to be engaging and entertaining enough to listen to from time to time. Had an very different kind of plot from my usual mysteries and I'm intrigued to see if I can find more books by Boris Akunin
Profile Image for Assaph Mehr.
Author 5 books385 followers
February 6, 2018
This and 'He Lover of Death' are two intertwined novels, as can be guessed from the names. While the two mysteries are separate, they happen at roughly the same time. When Fandorin disappears from one book for a few days, he's busy on the other case - while the other cast continue of their separate paths.

'She' is a bohemian, slightly absurd mystery of a death cult. 'He' is a tale of low-life criminals and gangs, an almost rags-to-riches treasure hunt. Both have their femme fatales, as well as plot twists.

What to Expect

Each novel is written as a different type of mystery. Akunin set out to rectify the low-brow reputation of the mystery genre in post-USSR Russia by writing worthy literature and exploring the wide gamut of sub-genres. Each novel is therefore excellently written as a different type of detective case. While there is continuity in the protagonist's life between the novels, each is very different in themes and tones.

I've written a condensed review of the whole series on my website.

What I liked

I like the writing style. The prose is intelligent and flowing, the mysteries are complex, and the cast is varied (though those that make repeat appearances tend to die). Fandorin himself is a great character, even though as a main character he still remains an enigma - a tantalising mystery in itself that keeps readers engaged and clamouring to know more.

I love the historical background. Akunin has done his research into Russian culture, mannerisms, environment, personalities, etc. of the late 19th century / early 20th century. Most of the stories take place around Moscow, and Fandorin gets to meet and associate with the people of the times (from the low-life criminals of Khitrovka, to the grand-dukes of the imperial family). In a few cases, Akunin also has Fandorin active around notable events of the era, at times filling in details where history has left us stumped.

Akunin is also a Japanophile, and has Fandorin spend a few years in Japan. While details are sketchy (and we want more! More!), it is clear that he has a great love and deep knowledge of that culture and times.

What to be aware of

Be aware that each of the novel is told in a different style. Besides the obvious (something new and different in each volume), one keyword  is 'told'. They are almost all in 3rd person perspective, and quite often not from the point of view of Erast Fandorin (which is both tantalising and frustrating at times). It's this distance that keeps Fandorin an enigma, and keeps us coming back to learn more.

Fandorin has a Sherlockian intellect and impressive physical prowess. He is not without his faults (most notably hubris), but as a hero he is certainly a cut above the rest. He also tends to get involved with a different femme fatale in each book. This suits the detective genre perfectly, regardless of modern sensibilities.

While the books are not really related and have few continuing characters, I'd still strongly recommend to read them in order.

Lastly, and this has nothing to do with Fandorin, since these are professional translations (amazingly done by Andrew Bromfield) via a traditional publisher, the price of ebooks and hardcovers is almost the same. The ebooks are also missing some of the illustrations and other typographical effects that are present in the print. I'd definitely recommend reading the print edition, where possible.


Should you read these novels? Yes! By all means, if you love historical mysteries these novels are a must read. It is an intelligent, engaging, and just different enough series to be in a class of its own. It's not surprising that in his home country of Russia, Akunin out-sells JK Rowling. In fact, since it's been a few years since I've read them, I think I'll go back and re-read my favourites (Winter Queen, State Counsellor, and The Coronation).

Assaph Mehr, author of Murder In Absentia: A story of Togas, Daggers, and Magic - for lovers of Ancient Rome, Murder Mysteries, and Urban Fantasy.
Profile Image for Zek.
414 reviews21 followers
May 31, 2020
זהו החלק האחרון שנמצא ברשותי לעת עתה מהסדרה הנפלאה ״תיבת פנדורין״ והחלק הפותח את המאה ועשרים בסדרה.
לצערי זהו גם החלק הכי חלש מכל החלקים שקראתי עד כה. שני שליש מהספר עברו בפיהוק מה והשליש האחרון לפתע החל לעניין, שופע דמיון אבל בסך הכך הרבה מתחת לרמה שאקונין הרגיל אותי.
Profile Image for Nancy Oakes.
1,920 reviews716 followers
August 26, 2015
In this the eighth installment of the Erast Fandorin series, the author changes his usual narrative style to tell this story via several different points of view. A young girl's journal, newspapers, the reports of an undercover agent, and even poetry all come together to weave a somewhat bizarre tale of a suicide club in Moscow. While suicide clubs are definitely not a new phenomenon in the rest of Europe, in Moscow they have been previously unheard of until now, at the dawn of the new century. She Lover of Death tells the story of a young woman from the provinces and how she came to be mixed up in such a group. It explores the burgeoning society of "decadents" arising around this time period, often delving into the influences of Russian poets such as Lermontov or Pushkin on sensitive psyches, especially those wondering about Russia's fate in this new century. Of course, there's a mystery element to it as well, one involving our illustrious hero and his ever-faithful servant Masa.

A young girl arrives in Moscow from Irkutsk, drawn there by a young man named Petya she had met previously while he had visited relatives in the provinces. Marya Marinova (nicknamed Masha) had been truly captivated by this young man she called Harlequin, who "cast a spell on her with the halo of fiery-red curls scattering across his shoulder, his loose-fitting blouse and intoxicating poems." Masha, who saw life as "an empty, stupid joke," was also captivated by Harlequin's comment about the only true beauty being in dying. Upon her arrival in Moscow, she changes everything about herself, including her name, rechristening herself simply as Columbine. When she catches up with Petya, he introduces her to a secret society of poets, brought together not only by their art, but with their fascination with death. The group is called The Lovers of Death; it is within the confines of this group that Death speaks through previous members (now dead by their own hands) via a medium to pick its next victim. The chosen ones must wait for three signs of confirmation before making their way to their rendezvous with Death. The head of this group is an strange character named Prospero, aka The Doge, and the club attracts the attention of a reporter who manages to infiltrate the group, unbeknownst to the others. It also attracts the attention of a strange man with dark hair which is graying at the temples, a person the group knows only as Prince Genji. But you guessed it -- Prince Genji is none other than Erast Fandorin, who believes that there is something more sinister lurking under the surface.

The various points of view work well in this novel, making the reader work a little bit harder to suss out what's really going on here. Since Akunin's regular readers are already quite familiar with Erast Petrovich by this time, the author mixes things up so that the reins of the story are given over to others actually involved in this odd tale, choosing to focus instead on accounts written by those smack in the middle of all of the action. What you end up with instead of more of a textured account of events that flesh out the rest of the story, rather than simply a linear mystery going from point a to point z. While Columbine's character is representative of one of these new "decadents" appearing in Moscow society around this time, sometimes it's a bit over the top, while at other times you can't help but feel sorry for this poor naive and very impressionable girl fresh from the provinces.

There is a bit of a supernatural feel to this book at times, making for a bit of fun and chills to the spine here and there, but luckily this is limited and doesn't consume the entire plotline. She Lover of Death is another trademark installment in the series -- it's a great deal of fun to read and it offers a realistic sense of place and time owing to the author's research and knowledge of the period. And as usual, it exceeds the boundaries of the regular conventional mystery novel with its characters' actions, especially those of the erstwhile Fandorin. As I've noted before, I don't really read these novels for their mystery component -- they're much more adventurous than a standard mystery story. And I can't help it -- I've been a huge Fandorin fan since the publication in English of Akunin's first novel.

I can definitely recommend She Lover of Death, both to followers of Akunin's Fandorin series, and to readers of historical crime fiction. I'm a stickler for following a series in publication order, and you could probably read this one without having read any of the earlier books. On the other hand, you wouldn't have all of the necessary nuances of Fandorin's character that make this series so much fun under your belt.

Overall, a fun read, one I had a great time with.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,693 reviews280 followers
September 15, 2016
took a little while to get used to his style of writing but gradually enjoyed the russian sherlock holmes in the case of a suicide club
Profile Image for Anastasia.
922 reviews128 followers
August 2, 2020

Оо,вот эта часть мне очень понравилась! Много мистики, которая объясняется логикой - я такое люблю. Да и вообще, персонажи и сам сюжет были интересными.
Profile Image for Yelena Furman.
3 reviews1 follower
March 1, 2018
I read this novel in Russian. She Lover of Death is the eighth installment of Boris Akunin's most famous historical detective series (each novel is set in late 19th-early 20th century) featuring the intrepid super-sleuth Erast Fandorin. As the 20th century unfolds, Moscow in 1900 is gripped by an epidemic of suicides by young people who belong to a secret club of Death's worshippers led by an all-powerful Doge whose members receive signs telling them it is their turn to die. Racing to stop the rash of suicides, Fandorin befriends one of the club members - the "She" in the title - as he becomes embroiled in a case of manipulation and deceit. Akunin's reputation in Russian literature is as a detective fiction writer for intellectuals and this novel, like the others in the series, features intertextual references, most notably to Dostoevsky, and characters discussing weighty ideas such as the nature of power. Also impressive is Akunin's depth of research, including into early 20th century forensic science and some highly inventive criminal methods. True fans of detective fiction will want to start with the first novel in the series - The Winter Queen - as there are some plot elements that will be missed if reading out of order, but these novels can also be read as stand-alone works. She Lover of Death may not be Akunin at his best, but all of his novels are both intelligent and entertaining. For anyone who loves Russian literature and/or detective fiction, he is highly, highly recommended.
Profile Image for Ann Marie.
454 reviews13 followers
August 28, 2021
Special thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for the ARC of this book in exchange for my own opinion.

This book wasn't had bad. I think I mostly read it because I'm excited by cultish themes and suicide, though I don't recommend that in real life of course. I think this is the 13th install!ent of Russian author (pseudonym Boris Akunin) book about protagonist Erast Fandorin, a gentleman who becomes quite flustered around famous people and especially naked women. By hobby, he likes to solve crimes that are puzzling I believe, though I haven't read any of his other books about Mr. Can do run.

Anyway, in this book, a naive Moscow woman, who wears a snake around her neck and wants to be known as "Columbine", joins a suicide club called Lovers of Death. These mostly suicidal to begin with members, gather around, listen to poetry, and a select a person to be the next suicide, but the person has to receive 3 signs of death before killing themself. I had a hard time keeping characters straight.

But instead of suicide, the brilliant Mr. Fandorin, needs to figure out who is facilitating these " murders" although they are suicides, someone is behind it, conjuring up the 3 signs for them before doing themself in.
I found the writing very heavy. Altogether, not a terrible idea. 3 stars.
Profile Image for Kristine.
3,244 reviews
March 10, 2020
She Lover of Death by Boris Akunin is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in mid-December.

Declaratively long-winded, kind of in the style of a seductive Douglas Adams, yet a read deep in lore and emotionality, poems published in the aftermath of mysterious deaths and suicides in Russia are framed alongside the story of a high-minded woman entering a Russian city with the intent to become famous as 'Columbine,' deliberate in her appearances and proclivities. She is seduced by Death in satyr form, her desires and dreams made piteous in his and other divine companies, who seem to be embodied characters from classic theatre. Other humans fall similarly under their thrall, fervently believing in semi-obvious portents.
Profile Image for Raigo Loide.
89 reviews2 followers
August 4, 2021
Youth, suicides and the criminal mastermind. I didn`t like the main narrator, a young woman who wanted to be more than average, and Fandorin was too much in the shadow. The novel also has no big crime, since most of the characters are more or less suicidal anyway. The topic could be the basis of a great psychological novel but Akunin does not write such thing.
But it`s not bad either. I finished the book within a day.
Profile Image for Inese Okonova.
425 reviews46 followers
April 24, 2021
Vispār jau bija ļoti labi - aizraujošs stāsts, ko, kā jau ierasts, no dažādiem skatu punktiem mums izklāsta vairāki romāna varoņi. Bet, tā kā Akuņins pats uzstādījis latiņu gana augsti, tad šoreiz likās, ka stāsts mazliet tāds kā pastiepts, kā brīžiem zaudē fokusu. Atļāvos būt kritiska, lai gan lasīšanas vērts šis detektīvs ir noteikti.
704 reviews13 followers
November 13, 2019

Borus Akunin is the pseudonym for Russian writer, Grigory Chkhartishvili, perhaps a decision wisely made because his real name is one to stumble over. But his novels, with a protagonist named Erast Fandorin, have sold thirteen million copies in Russia, have been adapted for television and film, and have made him a wealthy man. Did I like his book? Well, to a certain, degree, I did.

Fandorin is pictured as a charming man with a slight stammer, a gentleman with a protective demeanor who becomes quite flustered around people that are famous or females that are nude. He is a hobbyist at solving crime puzzles, and has a slight mysterious air about him. But he is brilliant, along with being charming, and I considered him intriguing. His aura kept me churning through a confusing story about people with difficult names and motives. Keeping characters straight was a major hassle.

In 1900 Moscow a young woman joins a suicide club known as the Lovers of Death. The members read poetry at meetings and games are then played to decide which member will next commit suicide. It all seems preposterous at first but as the story goes along and the members are studied, their troubled minds are exposed, their predilection with death is revealed, and the reader comes to expect the deaths, if not understand them. Although the deaths come at each person’s own hand, someone else is doing the manipulating and facilitating. Figuring out the perpetrator becomes Fandoran’s (and the reader’s) challenge, as well as deciding how to end the club. The ending will remain a secret.

Akunin’s writing is somewhat ponderous and formal. The heaviness could get annoying, but it does add to the 19th century Russian setting. So my advice would be to read what interests you, glide across the tough parts, and then decide where you fall in the legion of admirers. There’s a lot to respect here.

Profile Image for Niki.
711 reviews113 followers
November 13, 2019
Are you into seances, death cults, poetry, mysteries, and early 1900s? Basically, were you a fan of the TV series "Penny Dreadful", whose third season we shall not speak of? If yes, this may be the book for you!

Somehow I'm the only person reading or having read this book, and I honestly think y'all are sleeping on it.

First, the negatives, to get them out of the way: close to the end, I was mostly ready for the book to be over. The finale dragged at first, then became ridiculous, and then abruptly ended. Also, while I really enjoyed the multiple media (newspaper articles, letters, diary entries, etc.) in the beginning, the gimmick felt kinda forced by the end.

Ignoring the above, it was a very enjoyable story. I enjoyed the mystery, the mixed media storytelling, Erast Fandorin's presence (he's nothing original, an "uber smart and suave detective" is nothing new, but I still liked him), Columbine's POV (immature as hell but slowly getting better), and, of course, the creepy elements of the death cult.

(Note: I'm going to sound like such a millenial now, but I just couldn't get over the fact that the villain was called Doge, like the famous meme. I'm not kidding when I tell you I couldn't stop picturing the meme.)

All in all, I was very satisfied with the book, and I'm disappointed that I'm literally the only person on Goodreads speaking about it. Give it a chance!

**I was given a free copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.**
Profile Image for Natasha Belle.
167 reviews3 followers
January 3, 2023
С этой книги я, наверное, поняла, что мне уже сложно поставить Акунину меньше 5 звёзд и пора уже его записывать в ряды моих любимых авторов, наряду с Роулинг, Толкиным, Достоевским, Гоголем, Шекспиром, Мелиссой Майер и Ли Бардуго.

Действие этой книги разворачивается в Москве начала 20 века. Молоденькая провинциалка Маша Миронова приезжает покорять большой город с надеждами на грандиозное (и немного скандальное) будущее. А оказывается вплетена в сообщество «Любовники Смерти», где Смерть - это и супруга и супруг, и прекрасный принц и только выбирает «избранных», самых достойных. В этом «кружке» чужых не берут, нужно доказать свою избранность посредством стихосложения, что Маша ( для всех таинственная «Коломбина) и делает.

Фандорин пытается распутать клубок, который представляет собой эта группировка: кто стоит у истоков этой чудовищной организации, которая подталкивает людей к совершению таких отчаенных поступков, ведь лишить себя жизни в полном расцвете сил и при полном здравии - поступок нелогичный, трагичный и абсолютно безрассудный. Фандорин вступает в члены этой организации, распутывает дело. НО, он не идеальный человек, ему тоже свойственно совершать ошибки, которые могут стоит жизни людей.
Profile Image for Bill.
328 reviews
October 25, 2017
Each of Akunin's Fandorin books tackles a different genre. She Lover of Death is both a coming of age story and a nineteenth century adventure detective novel (inspired by Stevenson's "The Suicide Club" stories). It's an engaging story, told from three different viewpoints, each by a character with a secret. Because of the different narrators, we get to see Fandorin from several points of views although he is not always the focus of the narrative. The character the book focuses on mainly is Masha Mironova, who goes by the name of Columbine, arriving in Moscow for a live of adventure. She quickly ends up in the "Lovers of Death", a secret club whose members all wish for suicide. The charm of the book is it's characters, a wide-ranging group of eccentrics from a revered female poet, excitable German twins, and a young female medium who seems to have genuine powers. There is of course skulduggery going on and Fandorin also must infiltrate the club to solve the mystery.
Profile Image for Anna Bergmark.
292 reviews2 followers
January 14, 2018
The hero of this series is Erast Petrovich Fandorin of course, but the main character is often someone else, like in this installment where we follow a young woman involved with a "suicide club". The result is far from good. Call the lass silly or stupid or immature or all of the above - interesting or charming she is NOT. And the story itself...

The fact that all the murder victims are perfectly willing, no eager, to do away with them selfs for willy-nilly reasons, finding death romantic and desirable... Well, killing them is still wrong of course, but the evilness of the crimes seems lacking somehow and in the end you couldn't care less about it. Add a strained and muddled way of narrating the whole thing, through letters, newspaper articles and diary entries, and what you've got is a painful letdown.

2 yawning stars. As dull a dishwater.
Profile Image for Katerina.
458 reviews39 followers
February 6, 2017
I really like Erast Fandorin books and it has been a while I read any of this series, but this one left me a bit of a strange feeling. Erast is appearing under the surname Nameless and he is investigating privately and not from the side of the law. I have missed some books from before so that's probably the reason I am a bit lost, but it is still the same calm but secretive Erast. This time he is following the Lovers of Death, a secret community in Moscow who seem to worship Death and be involved with poetry. The capital of Russia is experiencing some strange suicides and the story is followed through the narrations of a young girl called Columbine in the secret community. A bit of obscure story that was still nice but somehow less than the previous ones.
Profile Image for Giulia.
251 reviews
April 18, 2021
This book is closer to a 4.5 than a 5 star rating but overall it was really good! I enjoyed the format which was unique and had its narrative unreliabilities which made for a more interesting story. I think this one repeats some of the patterns seen in The Turkish Gambit because we have it mainly told through a young woman’s eyes. I really like watching Erast through another’s experience because it makes him really mysterious.
The mystery I think was also good - though I find it sort of hard to believe that .
Anyway I accidentally read this one (book 9) instead of book 8 so I’ll be going back to 8 and then onto this book’s partner - He Lover of Death.
Profile Image for Melissa Helton.
Author 4 books8 followers
April 20, 2022
Not my favorite genre, but as far as fulfilling the mystery expectations, it's alright. I did not like Columbine's character and don't know if it's the handling from a male author (since we don't get insight into any other female character to compare it to) or if she's just vapid, but she was terrible to spend time with. Likewise, the way the Japanese character (I believe his name was Masa) was handled was pretty racist. It's one thing if the characters are racist (within the context of being 1900) but a lot of the racist things weren't in a character's mind or words, but rather in author exposition. The way the author handled the dialect, referred to him as "the Oriental," and other things was pretty crappy considering the book was written in 2001.
Profile Image for Elina.
21 reviews1 follower
January 4, 2016
This one has a slow start, but goodness how good it was in the end! The plot revolving around a suicide club is intriguing and works beautifully. Columbine has similarities to Varja in The Turkish Gambit, and I found them both annoying time to time. Otherwise the characters were excellent and well portrayed, and Erast Fandorin continues to be simply superb. I also liked Erast's passionate speech regarding the new century and technology - the hot subject for people during fin de siécle.
Profile Image for Helen Cranberry.
31 reviews
January 18, 2015
Читала книгу, когда еще училась в институте, захотелось перечитать и это того стоило. Люблю Акунина. Интересно, легко, отвлекает от реальности и дает пищу для размышлений.
Profile Image for Jess.
154 reviews
February 3, 2019
​Mosca, 1900. Masha Mironova lascia la nativa e provinciale Irkutsk per l'antica capitale russa, complice l'incontro con Petja, un giovane studente moscovita che ha risvegliato in lei il desiderio di una vita più libera e decadente. Col nome di Colombina e arie da bohémienne da due soldi, Masha ritrova un Petja diverso, ma che la introduce in un circolo esclusivo che porta il nome di "Amanti della morte". Gli amanti, capeggiati dal Doge Prospero, corteggiano la Morte scrivendo poesie in attesa del momento designato per togliersi la vita, almeno fino a quando quella che per il lettore si rivela una vecchia conoscenza non decide di mettere fine all'attività del circolo, rivelando ai suoi membri le pericolose macchinazioni di Prospero.

Proprio come il romanzo parallelo (He Lover of Death, per chi se lo fosse perso), She Lover of Death non è uno dei romanzi migliori della serie dedicata a Fandorin, anche se è nettamente superiore agli ultimi due tradotti fino ad ora. Se da una parte è interessante e ben riuscito l'alternarsi di diversi stili e voci narranti, dall'altra il libro viene pesantemente penalizzato da una protagonista insopportabile e mal riuscita e da una trama che, nonostante le premesse, stenta a decollare.

Nei miei precedenti commenti ai romanzi di Akunin ho sottolineato più volte quanto la narrazione risenta dell'assenza di un Fandorin più protagonista, ma soprattutto di quanto i personaggi femminili siano il suo tallone d'Achille. Colombina non rientra, ahimè, tra i pochi che salverei. Come la maggior parte delle donne di Akunin, anche lei è eccessivamente e insopportabilmente drammatica, convinta di essere speciale e all'avanguardia e proiettata verso il sensazionale, quando, di fatto, è semplicemente una provincialotta che si dà delle arie per nascondere (male) la sua inettitudine. Non che ci sia qualcosa di male nel ritrarre un personaggio femminile con queste caratteristiche, ma è evidente che qualcosa non va se quasi tutte le donne che fanno capolino in questi romanzi (ne salvo tre, quattro al massimo) risultano irritanti e hanno più o meno tutti i difetti sopra elencati senza voglia, da parte dell'autore, di dare loro maggior spessore. In Akunin non ho visto e continuo a non vedere nessun tipo di interesse nel regalare ai suoi lettori personaggi femminili a tutto tondo, perfetti nelle loro imperfezioni, e i cui difetti vengono apprezzati invece di causare noia e fastidio al lettore. A Colombina, per lo meno, fa ammettere di essere lenta di comprendonio ma non basta per salvare il personaggio ai miei occhi e va da sé che un romanzo raccontato dal suo POV e che riporta stralci del suo diario romanzato mi risulti pesante, per non parlare dei motivi non del tutto chiari che

La trama, come accennavo prima, è un altro punto a sfavore del romanzo. L'idea di far ruotare l'azione attorno a questo circolo di gente facilmente impressionabile e manipolata da un personaggio singolare come Prospero non è affatto male, anzi, ma abbiamo dei problemi Houston e questi problemi si chiamano brevità, ingenuità e banalità. Brevità perché 263 pagine sono troppo poche per poter sviluppare una storia accattivante; per quanto Colombina sia insopportabile e l'idea di dovermela sorbire più a lungo mi terrorizzi, al romanzo avrebbe giovato un intreccio più sviluppato. Ingenuità perché Fandorin, a 44 anni e mille peripezie in giro per il mondo, crede subito al discorso di Prospero sull'aver fondato il circolo per far passare alla gente la voglia di suicidarsi e abbracciare la vita. Akunin caro, parliamoci chiaro: va bene volerci ricordare che Fandorin è umano e può commettere errori come tutti noi, ma quando il lettore si ritrova davanti un discorso come quello di Prospero e ne percepisce subito tutta la falsità di cui è impregnato (e non ci vuole tanto eh), non ti sembra di prenderci e di prenderti un po' in giro? Mi spiace, ma da uno scrittore che sa fare il suo lavoro e che so che avrebbe potuto fare di meglio non riesco proprio ad accettarlo, è più forte di me.

Insomma, She Lover of Death, come il suo successore, è un libro mediocre: nulla da ridire sulle scelte stilistiche, ma penalizzate da tante buone premesse prontamente deluse. Consiglio di far seguire a questa lettura quella di He Lover of Death per potervi almeno divertire a capire in che modo i due romanzi si incastrino.
Profile Image for Green Hedgehog.
412 reviews22 followers
February 17, 2018
Ещё один двойной цикл в цикле романов о Фандорине, уже второй. Для справки – под первым циклом я подразумеваю «Особые поручения». Их объединял герой – Анисий Тюльпанов. Здесь же объединяющим фактором становятся время и место. Обе повести (вторая – «Любовник смерти») происходят в Москве и практически одновременно. Вплоть до того, что действия в одной повести влияют на происходящее во второй. То есть Акунин дал герою испытание - одновременно решить два дела. Итак, первое - про секту самоубийц.

И сразу скажу, как и предыдущий роман («Коронация»), это произведение кажется мне не особо выразительным. Да, опять же, у нас тут свой герой, точнее героиня - провинциальная девушка Маша, которая прибывает в Москву для того, чтобы её… да нет, не покорить. Скорее показать себя. Превратиться во что-то чем она никогда не станет в её родном Иркутске. Такой декадентской девушкой, по имени Коломбина. А заодно встретиться со своей первой любовью – гимназистом, который однажды приезжал в Иркутск. Ну и попадает прямо в это самое странное общество.

Большинство романов о Фандорине в которых присутствует подобный медиум проигрывают тем, где мы наблюдаем за героем напрямую. В этом «подцикле» оба романа именно такие, и вот Любовница смерти из них, пожалуй, что похуже. Тут есть свой шарм, такой декаданс, какая-то мистика. Но ведь понятно, что раз у нас тут детектив, никакой мистики быть не должно. Все это дело рук кого-то из героев. Так что подобное утверждение сразу убивает половину атмосферы. Да и параллели с «Клубом самоубийц» - слишком уж очевидны.

Ещё часть атмосферы убивает то, что здесь не так чтобы и много событий. Герои этого кружка умирают один за другим, но мы с ними совершенно не знакомы. Поэтому переживать от этих смертей – не получается. Нет никаких – «нет, только не он» или «кто же будет следующим»? Это скорее: «хм, а вот ещё одна пачка улик». Тут у автора не получается даже самому создать какой-то ажиотаж. Вот одного из героев устами остальных членов кружка пророчат в новые Пушкины, Лермонтовы. И делают это несколько раз в разное время. Даже после его смерти, намекая на то, что его смерть – большая потеря, чуть ли не общероссийская. Вот только в это не веришь. Просто потому что ты то о нем ничего не знаешь. Как не знаешь ничего о тех, кто о нем все это говорит. Мы тут знаем много о главной героине, практически все о Фандорине. А вот про остальных мы не знаем ничего.

Тут автор сам себя перехитрил. Напихал в этот клуб разных героев и сделал одного из них агентом полиции. Поэтому раскрыть героев, не раскрыв этого агента - довольно проблематично. Вот и пришлось ему всех этих героев делать довольно шаблонными. Мы узнаем о их особенностях и живописных деталях личности только после смерти этих самых героев. Что на мой взгляд довольно поздновато.

Да и если честно, детективная интрига здесь прописана довольно скудно. Я помню, что в первом прочтении сразу догадался, кто за всем этим стоит. Да и вообще действия Фандорина просчитываются довольно легко. А вот его первичный импульс взяться за дело - он наоборот выглядит очень надуманным. Типа услышал и решил заняться. С намеком на все тот же «Клуб Самоубийц». Но все это без каких-либо более логичных доводов. На секундочку, за год до этого он сотрудничал с Шерлоком Холмсом. А в предыдущем романе - так вообще решал проблемы дома Романовых. И его не очень любят в России. Да еще… в общем – не очень логичный поступок со стороны Эраста Фандорина.

Одним словом - слабая книга. Читал только по привычке и на набранной скорости. Тем более, что, когда читал первый раз, не знал про вторую книгу цикла. Я там говорил, что эти две книги связаны? Только эта связь влияет больше на вторую книгу (объясняет, почему на важную встречу герой приходит не подготовленный). А в первой – ну, да, парочка героев упоминается и все. Так что и этот оригинальный ход, проходит мимо этой книги. Хоть и легко читается.
Profile Image for Viv JM.
689 reviews154 followers
December 23, 2016
I needed to read a Russian mystery book for a reading challenge and Boris Akunin was the author’s name that consistently appeared on Google searches so I thought I’d give one of his novels a try. One day I had a few minutes in an independent bookstore prior to having to dash to catch a train so I grabbed this one solely based on the gorgeous cover.

“She Lover of Death” is a mystery set in Moscow at the turn of the 20th century. There is a wave of suicides and all the victims are leaving death poems in their wake. We slowly learn of the secret “Lovers of Death” society via newspaper articles, a young woman’s journal and letters addressed to a lieutenant-colonel signed simply “ZZ”. Following these letters and articles, the book takes a more conventional storytelling path, interspersed at times with more of the letters and journal entries.

This is not a super-fast paced, exciting thriller but is a more old fashioned mystery, where clues are gradually revealed, culminating in a grand reveal at the end. There is wonderful array of colourful and eccentric characters, together with some lovely historical and geographical detail and deliciously macabre humorous (and very Russian!) touches throughout. It was a very enjoyable read and I would definitely like to read more of Akunin’s “Erast Fandorin” series as I have inadvertently started at #8!
Profile Image for Jordan Stivers.
456 reviews2 followers
February 11, 2020
This one wasn't my cup of tea. I think this may have been a case of not having read any of the previous novels in the series or something with the translation but, there were pieces of the story that I enjoyed. Columbine is a lovely character, I really liked her true state of naïveté combined with her desperation to seem more worldly and aloof than she actually is. Her diary entries were my favorite point-of-view in the story. Next I would rate the journalist's articles, with the police informant reports being my least favorite simply because it came across, well, like a report and less like a story. Unfortunately the pacing was much too slow for my tastes (especially as a mystery) even from the beginning and it was difficult to keep interest. Also, while I appreciate using the traditional prose of the 19th century, I did not appreciate the racialized accent of Masa. Yes, historical accuracy is well and good but it was wholly unnecessary to the story.

Note: I received a free Kindle edition of this book via NetGalley in exchange for the honest review above. I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher Grove Atlantic, and the author Boris Akunin for the opportunity to do so.
317 reviews17 followers
February 24, 2020
I have not had the pleasure of reading any of Boris Akunin's other novels but after reading She Lover of Death, I am looking forward to doing so in the near future.

I really enjoyed this story and I think the translator, Andrew Bromfield, did a great job. The story came through rather clearly and the wording was smooth. I imagine that can be a difficult task especially with a poem-heavy manuscript.

The characters were interesting and the storyline intriguing. She Lover of Death presents original ideas which make for an engaging read. A review I read after finishing this book mentioned that either a film or series was made based on this book, I hope I get the opportunity to see it as the book was quite visual. There are twists and turns that I have to admit I did not expect, it is nice to be surprised and it is nice to be wondering who is watching, who is reporting, etc. Just the right ratio of clues and suspense.

Boris Akunin is a talented writer and I think many people will enjoy She Lover of Death. Don't let the fact that is an English translation of a Russian novel deter you from reading it. It offers an interesting look at a different time in an exotic locale.
Profile Image for Sarah Jackson.
Author 27 books27 followers
January 13, 2020
This was a bit of a random selection on my part, having never read any others author's other works, and therefor none of the others in the Fandorin mysteries series. I am pleased to say that I rather enjoyed the twisted tale of the "Lovers of Death" poetry reading and suicide society, and the lives of the various players involved. Akunin has a rather odd style writing, but this may be due to the translation of the original work. Well worth a look, especially for those with an interested in Russian society.
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