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Preparators. The Hawk’s Calling. Book 1


The fans of Leigh Bardugo and George Martin will embrace this new striking universe of thrilling fantasy adventure, fascinating drama and intricate court scheming by Yana Lett, Russia’s new bright voice in YA cross-over fiction.

For many centuries, Kjertania has been bound by eternal ice. In the deadly and alluring Frost that surrounds the cities, only snitirs dwell – extraordinary creatures that exist simultaneously in two layers of reality. It is the snitirs – or, more precisely, parts of their bodies – that sustain life on the continent. Their hearts beat in place of train and car engines, and their eyes pierce the darkness instead of lanterns...

Only preparators – humans with special physical abilities – can hunt them. Their task is to kill the creature's spirit, keeping the body alive – so that its parts can be used for multiple purposes in Kjertania. Annually recruiters take off from the capital all over the country in search of young people who can meet the challenge of Frost as preparators. It is a rare luck when at least one person is found to pass the trial, but this year is different: three young villagers – confident and ambitious Sorta, smart and funny dreamer Ulm, tender and charming Missy – get enlisted on training for this honorable but deadly dangerous service. Each will demonstrate their unique skills during years of practice and all three will have to make decisions that shall define their life paths. What price must be paid for their closeness, for unexpected and sometimes unwanted abilities?

Sorta demonstrates exceptional hunting skills and is assigned to work in pair with the greatest “hawk”, Eric Chrome. He seems arrogant and cold, and Sorta assumes this is because he does not want to feel attachment to a new partner after a recent loss of his previous years-long hunter and friend. Yet this might be not the only reason – Eric obviously has his own agenda in the court, and the more Sorta knows about Eric the more acute her choice between the loyalty to the service (and the royal court) and to her hawk becomes.

Ulm has always dreamt of exploring the world, and becoming a pilot of Kjertania’s grandiose flying vessels would be a career to seek for. Yet his natural inquisitiveness and an eye for minute details is not left unnoticed by the state police, and he is recruited as a detective inspector’s hand. When Ulm gets invited to the reception at the court together with other new recruits, he has no idea how his usual charms will work on the royal heiress, and that a small talk with a girl in the palace garden will take him not only into the heart of the princess but also in the center of the court’s intricate politics.

Missy, too, falls under charms of a young man from Kjertania’s elite. Naïve and open-hearted, she is prepared to sacrifice her career as a hunter to the promise of a family life. Yet does her boyfriend really want this sacrifice?


Yana Lett invites her readers onto a fascinating journey into a new world, filled with dark secrets, terrifying monsters, court intrigues and thrilling adventures. At once a coming-of-age story and a gripping thriller, this story probes on questions that young people often face. Can you fight against the system? What does it take to change your destiny by your own will? How do you choose between love and duty?

The world created by Yana Lett is intricate, logical, and detailed. It encompasses social inequality, trains crafted from snitir body parts, religious rituals, intrigues, epidemics, and smuggling. The writer has populated Kjertania with a good dozen prominent characters—complex, multidimensional, not reducible to typical fantasy archetypes.

— Galina Yuzefovich, a literary critic

A complex weird techno-fantasy with traces of magical realism and horror.

— Mir Fantastiki

The book ends not even on a half-word but on a half-syllable, and the tension that had been building since the first chapters intensifies exponentially by the finale. After all, whatever can put an end to eternal cold, if it is even possible, is very distant. And the Frost is always very close.

Book details

No Sugar Press (AST)

Novel, 2023

576 pp

Rights sold

  • All rights available

Literary awards

  • Longlisted for The New Horizons Prize 2023

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