King Stakh’s Wild Hunt by Uladzimir Karatkevich
(from the back of the book)
King Stakh’s Wild Hunt tells the tale of Andrey Belaretsky, a young folklorist who finds himself stranded by a storm in the castle of Marsh Firs, the seat of the fading aristocratic Yanovsky family. Offered refuge by Nadzeya, the last in the Yanovsky’s line, he learns of the family curse and terrible apparitions that portend her early death and trap her in permanent, maddening fear. As Belaretsky begins to unravel the secrets of the Yanovskys, he himself becomes quarry to the Wild Hunt, silent phantoms who stalk the marshes on horseback and deliver death to all who cross their path. He must uncover the truth behind the ghostly hunt to release Nadzeya from her fate and undo the curse that hangs over the marshes.
This is an eerie tale. The whole story creates a creepy, dreary atmosphere and you can feel the oppressive weight hanging over these people and see the effect that constant fear has had on them. It’s wonderful how it keeps you unsure of what is real or imagined, what is supernatural and what is the conniving of man. It is a mystery and a ghost story and you are never sure what is going to happen next. There is the quiet, slow horror of noises and apparitions in the hallways and the heart stopping terror of chasing (and being chased by) phantoms in the dark, dangerous marsh. And Nadzeya’s belief and acceptance of the fact that she is doomed and there is nothing she can do starts to infect the reader as everything seems to go against her would-be savior. The haunted and spooky environment will have you hearing footsteps when no one else is home. It is a dark and creepy tale, but that’s what makes it fun. In a read it with all the lights on sort of way.