Rasputin's Bastards

They were the beautiful dreamers. From a hidden city deep in the Ural mountains, they walked the world as the coldest of Cold Warriors, under the command of the Kremlin and under the power of their own expansive minds. They slipped into the minds of Russia's enemies with diabolical ease, and drove their human puppets to murder, and worse. They moved as Gods. And as Gods, they might have remade the world. But like the mad holy man Rasputin, who destroyed Russia through his own powerful influence . . . in the end, the psychic spies for the Motherland were only in it for themselves.

It is the 1990s. The Cold War is long finished. In a remote Labrador fishing village, an old woman known only as Babushka foresees her ending through the harbour ice, in the giant eye of a dying kraken–and vows to have none of it. Beaten insensible and cast adrift in a life raft, ex-KGB agent Alexei Kilodovich is dragged to the deck of a ship full of criminals, and with them he will embark on a journey that will change everything he knows about himself. And from a suite in an unseen hotel in the heart of Manhattan, an old warrior named Kolyokov sets out with an open heart, to gather together the youngest members of his immense, and immensely talented, family. They are more beautiful, and more terrible, than any who came before them. They are Rasputin's bastards. And they will remake the world.

Reviews of Rasputin's Bastards:

There are many brilliant moments in this genuinely inventive book . . .
Rasputin's Bastards is . . . David Nickle's most complex and ambitious work yet . . .
This novel is supernatural eeriness at its best, with intriguing characters, no clear heroes, and a dark passion at its heart. Horror aficionados and fans of Stephen King's larger novels should appreciate this macabre look at the aftermath of the Cold War.
—Library Journal
. . .the construction of this book is meticulous. The research and planning Nickle must have put in to pull this novel off is frankly awe inspiring. And the writing is incredible. And the story . . . is as rollicking as it is twisted.
Nickle's book is an enormous tale, bewilderingly complex, but with lots of twists and turns that reward close attention. It is grotesque, violent, and exciting, with a supernatural tinge that is his hallmark.
Rasputin’s Bastards is a testament to the fact Nickle can write anything.
While every novel is likely a painstaking effort on the part of the author, rarely is said labour so easily perceived and appreciated as in Rasputin’s Bastards.
[Rasputin's Bastards is] . . . stiffly compelling. Once you’re done, there’s no question: the hours spent enfolded in Nickle’s imagination are well spent. You won’t ever feel the desire to ask for them back.
David Nickle describes an intricate plot with a baker's dozen of multifaceted characters . . .
A plot so dissected is not easy to get right, but Nickle juggles it incredibly well. And it's just the right kind of style for this book.
—Newstalk 1010
Nickle manages to imbue his characters with significant agency, using his premise to raise questions of personal responsibility versus societal control rather than hide from them. This strong thematic backbone provides substance to the excellently written spy-thriller material, providing both action and food for thought in a strong sophomore novel . . . . Rasputin’s Bastards works on multiple levels. It is an entertaining thriller, a fun secret history/conspiracy theory, and a thoughtful exploration of the importance of one's own past, the nature and extent of personal responsibility, and the allures and dangers of the human capacity to live in our own illusions.
—SFRevu
Lovely, rich writing only serves to make the creepy bits (of which there are plenty), well, even more creepy, and fans of subtle horror will find much to like in Rasputin’s Bastards.
To read David Nickle is to be reminded what the best storytellers can do, and to glory in unbridled imagination released on the page. David's achievements in Rasputin’s Bastards are innumerable. He reminds me of no one so much than maestro Dan Simmons, another writer unconstrained by the limits of genre. When it comes to narrative, David dances where others plod, and dares where others play it safe. This is all to say, David Nickle takes no prisoners, and leaves a magnificent bruise as a reminder of the encounter.
—Corey Redekop
Part Bioshock, part X-Files, part Sopranos—and 100%, uncut Nickle—Rasputin's Bastards is a glorious, sprawling, chaotic delight. I wish I'd written it; in fact, I may yet steal the domesticated giant squid.
—Peter Watts
Rasputins Bastards is a book with such a vast canvas and sweep, handled with such command and care by Nickle, that it is a must-read for anyone who wants to know what amazing things can be done with dark historical fantasy.
—Tony Burgess, author of People Live Still in Cashtown Corners

Other Reviews

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Author Info

David Nickle is a Toronto-based author and journalist whose fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies like Cemetery Dance, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, the Northern Frights series and the Queer Fear series. Some of it has been collected in his book of stories, Monstrous Affections. His first solo novel, Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism, led the National Post to call him “a worthy heir to the mantle of Stephen King.” His most recent novel, Rasputin's Bastards, was called supernatural eeriness at its best. He also works as a reporter, covering Toronto municipal politics for a chain of community newspapers.

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