Alone in the world, Sophie dreams of being someone special, but she could never have imagined this.
On a school trip to Russia, Sophie and her two friends find themselves on the wrong train. They are rescued by the beautiful Princess Anna Volkonskaya, who takes them to her winter palace and mesmerises them with stories of lost diamonds and a tragic past.
But as night falls and wolves prowl, Sophie discovers more than dreams in the crumbling palace of secrets
This is a bit younger than I normally read but still an amazing story. It told of Sophie, an orphan who dreams of adventure and family. When a mystery woman turns up at her school with assurances to whisk her away to Russia, Sophie can't believe her luck. Things after that are quite confusing; Sophie and her two friends apparently get on the wrong train, they are abandoned on said train and a strange man (I pictured a Hagrid-like figure here, it worked) picks them up from an empty train station in the middle of a snow storm. So yeah, definitely an adventure!
The beautiful princess Anna rescues them from the snow, welcomes them to her - admittedly cold and deserted - castle and tells them of her family, the brave prince who distracted rioters so his wife and child could flee during the revolution. There, the girls are drawn into the mystery of the family's lost diamonds and the protection of the wolves.
What I was most impressed with was the descriptions and imagery; the ice and snow over Russia was almost fantastical and I was actually shivering when the three girls were thrown out into the snow! The whole mystery of the family and the dilapidated house and the reason the girls were even there was absorbing and I had to know the truth. The influence of the folk tale aspect was very well done and did a lot to help the mystery and strange-ness of the story. I really loved this story, it was beautifully written and set out with a winter-y and fantastical elements, not to mention the harsh betrayal and the shock ending that had me gasping.
Published January 2015 by Chicken House.