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Adapted to film

Liubov Barinova’s riveting debut novel – Eve, a psychological drama – struck a chord with the Russian literary community. The manuscript was championed by Barinova’s mentor, Marina Stepnova, as well as Dmitry Glukhovsky, the internationally bestselling author of the Metro series of novels. Eve is a taut novel with the trigger of a thriller: it forces the reader to ponder difficult questions of how far a sibling’s love can go and if evil can be recouped with another crime.

Herman Morozov is a kidnapper. This is his story.

The novel’s opening catches Herman Morozov as he is about to pull the trigger. Herman’s plan is to shoot the Lomakins, who murdered his sister, Eve. Herman changes his original scheme, though, when he sees the Lomakins’ three-year-old daughter: he will kidnap the girl to make the Lomakins suffer just as they made him suffer. It should be simple – he will send them pieces of the girl’s clothes and belongings regularly, no explanations, no ransom demands, no hope of seeing their daughter again. An eye for an eye.

Told in alternating perspectives before and after the kidnapping, Eve asks unsettling questions about whether one evil deed can be retaliated with another crime.

Following the story of Herman’s past, we watch painful bonding between the siblings: their relationship explains, even excuses, the crime Herman commits. Raised by a stern single father, the siblings develop a strong connection, where a silent boy depends totally on his effervescent sister. Two childhood incidents – a tragic winter walk in the woods that leaves Herman handicapped for years and a heart-wrenching bullying incident at school – make Herman’s dependence on his sister physiologically obsessive. The boy literally loses his breath in Eve’s absence.

Over the years, Herman learns to control the physical side effects of their bond, though Eve remains the core of his life, the mechanism running his universe. Eve, too, relies on her brother as she walks along a thin path on the darker side. With a life credo of challenging extremes, Eve even writes a suicide note to prevent suspicions being cast on her family in the event of her death. Yet Herman is always there to support his sister whether she’s recovering from a new love affair or another job adventure. When Eve marries the headstrong, ambitious Oleg Lomakin, she seems to eventually gain a long-sought peace along with a bright career. Then one day Eve again calls Herman, who discovers a heartbroken husband upon arrival – Eve has drowned. Supposedly, she has committed suicide. Soon Herman gets evidence that his sister’s death was neither a suicide nor an accident.

In the novel’s present, Herman struggles with his hatred towards his sister’s murderers, holding their daughter a hostage to his rage. Lost in a crowd of journalists and onlookers, Herman follows as the Lomakins’ dream of a family is crushed and the desperate parents plead for their kidnapped baby’s return. When the couple pays out a huge ransom to a fake kidnapper, they receive a package with a piece of the girl’s clothes from Herman, oblivious to the preceding drama. In despair, Arina’s mother poisons her husband and commits suicide. Herman is left with no choice – he must raise Arina as his own daughter.

Over the years, Arina’s questions about her mother grow more urgent but remain unanswered. Together with her boyfriend, the girl searches in her father’s past. When Arina’s investigation brings them to Eve’s grave, the girl cannot foresee how the discovered truth about Eve will upend everything she knows about her father and herself.

With exceptional elegance, Barinova makes a surgically detailed psychological examination of her characters and carefully reconstructs their human drama over the length of the novel. The author’s eloquent style makes the reading exceptionally enjoyable, immersing readers into Barinova’s colorful and vivid universe and into the heart of her ambivalent hero. Barinova demonstrates masterly control over the novel’s vivid and totally believable characters, picturesque depictions, and every nuance of the plot’s development. The author’s razor-sharp descriptions, precise word choice and juicy metaphors ratchet up the novel’s tension, making this debut psychological drama truly stand out in the modern literary landscape.

[Barinova has written] a suspenseful drama with a close eye to psychological details and plot turns. This book explains that life cannot be defined by either a string of incidents or an inherent disposition, but depends instead on what we do and what we choose.

— Esquire

A beautiful and overwhelming novel that’s impossible to put down.

Marina Stepnova, the prize-awarded author of Women of Lazarus

This novel is totally gripping. Screams to be on screen!

 Dmitry Glukhovsky, the author of the bestselling Metro series of books

A compelling read. It seems the author wants to convey that two wrongs don't make a right, and evil can only be stopped by an act of willpower and deed.

— Maxim Mamlyga, Esquire

This novel is brilliantly conceived and written. Much looking forward to watch the TV show when it is coming.

— Vladislav Tolstov, a critic

Book details

Elena Shubina Publishing (AST)

Novel, 2019

318 pp

Rights sold

  • Arabic AS Publishers

  • Hungarian Tericum

Film rights sold

Literary awards

  • Longlisted for the National Bestseller Prize 2020

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