The eerie rusalka of Old World Problems

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Rusalka, by Bonnie Noveille, is an urban fantasy set in St. Paul, Minnesota. It is book one in the series Old World Problems and centers around the human and supernatural community that arose as part of the Ukrainian diaspora. The rusalki are an important part of the story! But what is a rusalka?

What is a Rusalka?

A rusalka is a creature from Slavic folklore and found in Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian tales. Rusalki take the appearance of drowned or unearthly women who haunt rivers and lakes. There are many different beliefs about why, exactly, they haunt the rivers where they are found.

In some cases, rusalki are portrayed as women who took their own lives by drowning, or who were murdered by drowning. These rusalki avenge themselves by luring men to the water with their siren songs. If a rusalka is lonely, the stories say, she drowns children so that she has a child of her own.

In other stories, rusalki represent elemental beings with strong connections to nature. These rusalki bless and water the fields of crops in the spring when they come ashore to dance at night and are playful and kind.

The Rusalki of Old World Problems

In the series Old World Problems, many different beings from Slavic folklore are found in St. Paul- rusalki among them. This is because of the Ukrainian diaspora that settled in this area of Minnesota.

As in the old tales, the rusalki of St. Paul have their own motives. Sometimes, they are dangerous to humans. At other times, they take a benevolent role. Much of it depends on the rusalka’s own story, her personality during her time in the human world, and whether she wishes to stay as a caretaker of the river.

The rusalki who seek to avenge their deaths are grotesque and horrible to behold. However, if they have a change of heart and choose to remain as guardians of the river, they appear as beautiful yet unearthly women. Regardless, rusalki are eerie beings. They love to sing at night, and their lovely voices are heard every night during Rusalki Week. This is a week in early June when the rusalki come ashore every night for revelry.

About the Book

Sophie Mayko inherits her grandmother’s house and moves to St. Paul. She soon discovers a surprising cast of characters from Ukrainian folklore… and a whole host of Old World problems! The key to restoring the balance among St. Paul’s supernatural community lies with the ornately decorated pysanky eggs made by Sophie’s grandmother, but no one remembers exactly how she made them. Will Sophie and her friends be able to take up the craft and set things to rights?

Read it now on Kindle!

Photo Credit: by Henryk Niestrój from Pixabay