When I was young, there was one book in the house I loved more than any other. That book was Tales from Central Russia by James Riordan, and it contained forty-seven fairy tales that seemed to come from another world. A world of tiny villages and deep forests, where it always seemed to be winter and that winter had a personal grudge against you. Magic and Christianity existed side-by-side–every village had its priest, who was usually depicted doing something foolish–and the animals all knew more than they were letting on. Riders with spiked helmets cantered through the forest, bringing night behind them.
And when it came to boys and girls, the girls would end you. Nicely.