Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
A Study of Household Spirits of Eastern Europe by Ronesa Aveela is the first book in the Spirits and Creatures series. Taken from tales originating as Christian and pagan, Aveela compiles a collection of nine influential spirits: Kikimora, Domovoi, Stopan, Talasum, Smok, Bannik, Ovinnik, Dvorovoi, and Hovanets. Each spirit comes with an exciting story and a rich history to explore with reasons why people have been drawn to them over the years and what their tales have inspired, which in some cases have been music and even ballet. From Kikimora and her role foretelling disaster to the darker side of a Bannik, this is the perfect resource to explore history and belief. Also included is an assortment of illustrations from a variety of artists.
Ronesa Aveela is thorough in the research and portrayal of each spirit to where understanding them is so in-depth they feel like real characters. The structure is incredibly well organized with each chapter depicting a different household spirit and boxes highlighting different tidbits. Included is anything from etymology to music to tales inspired by the spirit. As with most creatures of myth and folktales, each of these has multiple facets which Aveela clearly lays out for a complete understanding of how they're viewed. The amount of research and thoroughness put into each section shows Aveela's passion for the topic. Aveela not only goes into the history but how they functioned in society and how they inspire even today with several examples noted from throughout history. It's fun to engage in what these spirits have inspired, with a few favorites being everything the Kikimora and Domovoi have inspired people to create; from animated film to a ballet by Leonide Massine telling the story of Kikimora and her cat to interactive fiction featuring the Domovoi.
The illustrations are stunning with each artist offering a different interruption and perspective while perfectly capturing the essence of the role each spirit has played. The images are lovely with some providing just the right amount of eeriness, much like some of the spirits themselves. A Study of Household Spirits of Eastern Europe is an extensive account of nine spirits with stunning illustrations, thorough research, and fascinating facts, making it the perfect resource for those who enjoy and want to learn about spirits from folklore.