Review: Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison

by Kathryn Harrison

Paperback Publication Date: February 26, 2013 
Random House Publishing 
Paperback; 352p 
ISBN: 0812973771 
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Source: TLC Book Tours 

Reviewed by: Amy Bruno 
Rating: 4/5 

Every now and a book comes along that provides a fresh and unique view to a well-known piece of history and Enchantments is a great example of that. Smart, imaginative and endearing, Kathryn Harrison has written a very engaging novel set in 20th century Russia.

Masha is eighteen when her beloved father, the “Mad Monk” Rasputin is murdered and she is sent to live, along with her sister, with the Romanov family. Soon after arriving, Tsar Nicholas is forced to abdicate his throne and the royal family, including Masha and Varya, whose fate is now tied to the Romanovs, are put under house arrest by the Bolsheviks. The Tsarina wishes for Masha to take Rasputin’s role as healer to Prince Alexei, who suffers from the dreaded disease of hemophilia, but Masha doesn’t have her father’s gift. What she does have a gift for is storytelling and it’s in this respect that she tends to the young royal. Masha transports Alyosha away from his pain-filled, broken body with stories of her father’s past, his healings and love of women. They talk of Alyosha’s parents, the Tsar and Tsarina, of history and reading, of Russia and its fate, anything that will take their mind off of their dire situation. It’s through Masha and Alyosha’s stories that the backdrop of the story is told and I rather liked how Harrison accomplished this. It was an entertaining and creative way to tell the history without dragging the story down with facts. 

I also really enjoyed Harrison’s style of writing. It is very unique and once I slowed down to really savor the words, I was hooked. It’s clever and intriguing and hard to put down. With having my own business and an 8 month old at home my reading time is pretty much non-existent, so it’s a good testament to Enchantments that I found myself staying up late, way after the baby went to bed just to keep reading this fabulous book. I am so very glad that I found Kathryn Harrison and I look forward to more from her in the future.

About the Author
Kathryn Harrison was born in 1961 in Los Angeles, California, where she was raised by her mother's parents. She is a graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers Workshop, where, in 1986, she met her husband, the novelist Colin Harrison. They had a first date on Friday, April 25, and on Monday, April 28, they moved in together. The Harrisons married in 1988, and live in Brooklyn with their three children. Kathryn writes novels, memoirs, personal essays, biography, and true crime. She is a frequent reviewer for the New York Times Book Review, and teaches memoir at Hunter College's MFA program in Creative Writing, in New York City.

Kathryn Harrison is currently on tour with TLC Book Tours, please see the schedule of stops here.  Stop by tomorrow for a guest post by Kathryn Harrison and a giveaway of Enchantments!


  1. Any book that can keep a young mom awake after the baby is in bed has GOT to be a great read! LOL

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  2. That's definitely a different angle of the Russian Revolution. Very curious about it now!


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