Apart from inserting a decent part of adventures into her stories, Maryna deals with complicated relationships between people and puzzles her reader with some very unusual philosophy of her own. One more peculiarity of Sokolyan’s fiction is “parallel text”, accompanying the main one. In Novendialia, stories from Drakuv’s history told by a witty guide follow the main plotline, and in Kovdra snovydy (Sleepwalker’s Blanket) the author inserts an “abstract from a monograph entitled Consolidation of Mundanity” into the narrative. Kovdra snovydy’s fable spins around a tricky question: what may happen to gods whom people do not worship anymore? The story in fact resembles a magic blanket, knit of bright flickering sparkles. Yet another of Sokolyan’s works, Herem, retells the story of the Messiah from a totally unexpected point of view. Although author does not insist that her text deals with the biblical tale, a number of details makes the hint quite obvious. Maryna Sokolyan’s fiction is multi-layered. Besides the books already mentioned, there is also a mystery social drama Kodlo (The Evil Breed) and a mystery detective story Storonni v domi (Strangers in the House) – where love mingles with Cabbala. Balada dlya Kryvoyi Varhy (Ballad for Crooked Varga) is also based on Ukrainian myths.
Contemporary Ukrainian Literature Review (Almanac)
Yaroslava Nemirovych, the main character of Maryna Sokolyan’s novel The Harpy’s Heart, has become a witness of a crime. She runs away from the chase and finds herself in a remote village. Recalling her past, she realizes that she has to some point provoked a situation that led to a person’s death. She tries to understand which critical moments in her life have caused her spiritual degradation. Yaroslava has many talents, such as a gift for making up witty stories and an ability to influence people’s emotions. Cleverly using these talents, she has made a good career and did not even notice when her habit of manipulating people has lead to professional deformation of her personality. Yaroslava wants to spend some time in the peaceful atmosphere of the village and find a way to come to terms with herself, but she learns from her neighbours about recent events – one person is missing, and another is in prison for a crime that he seemingly didn’t commit. Thanks to her manipulative and analytic skills, Yaroslava solves this crime. Building story lines that put the character into complicated life situations, the novel’s author offers the readers to decide for themselves which lines should not be crossed for the sake of results.
Sokolyan’s text works as a well-adjusted mechanism, every detail sits in its place, which makes “Novendialia” is a quality literary piece. The book will suit all readers who like fantasy and light philosophical prose.
“Novendialia” is a recent “full-length” novel by Maryna Sokolyan with a vivid, finely twisted mystic-detective story. Its dynamic style would have easily made it a good basis for a blockbuster. The more so since the book has all the necessary ingredients of a thrilling story: a half-secret society and its bloody activities, a lonely hero with a brave heart, Drakuv, a gloomy city with a medieval ambience and its gothic legends and much more.
“Druh chytacha” newspaper
At first you are going to be surprised – did Maryna Sokolyan dare compose an alternative Gospel? Did she, like Bulgakov, venture to write about our Lord Jesus Christ? There are reasons for this suspicion: the story is set amid deserts and palms, the place names sound like Samaria, Jericho and Jerusalem, a strict self-contained law sounds much like Judaic, and the main character Gur, sold into captivity could as well have been a carpenter.
Then you’ll see that Gur […] does not aspire to be Jesus, though he claims some of his functions – he is partly a teacher, partly a son of a God, partly a savior. […] In Hebrew “Herem” means a certain sacred censure, of both positive and negative nature, bringing together under one lexeme both sacred and accursed. That’s the whole idea of the novel: good and evil, light and dark, divine and earthly, righteous and sinful are so intermixed in the text that at a certain point one can’t see a difference. And this is no longer science fiction, this is our beautiful new reality.
The author’s style is outstanding, rich in imagery and original humor […], which makes her texts attractive to connoisseurs of the literary esthetics. Sokolyan does not rubber-stamp in any way, there are no ready made metaphors, nor ready made ideas. Each novel is not just a thrilling story but also an opportunity to receive a cultural bonus, as the author is well-versed in world cultures. The “Storonni v domi (Strangers in the house)” novel falls into the same realm, combining philosophical content and light narrative style. Both informed and new readers are guaranteed to find food for reflection.
Living with strangers, both in the house and in the heart, can be very frustrating. Romantic and reflective young radio host, Jan Reivakh, struggles to cross the borderline separating people. He appeals to music, love and even Kabbalah, yet, unraveling the arcane mystery of human detachment can be both rewarding and disastrous. Paying for your love with your own blood – is it such a good bargain?
“Storonni v domi (Strangers in the house)” Amazon book description
Search for answer to the question “Why do miracles leave this world?” leads the author away from her earlier works […] and brings her to “acquittal of chaos”, expressed elegantly and convincingly, to be envied by best attorneys. “Kovdra snovydy (Sleepwalker’s blanket)” is a fantasy novel, but of a philosophical nature, so fans of plain quests will be puzzled. A scornful label “escapism” also does not fit here: the world, where all irrational is fading – gods, magic as well as people that demand more then just natural necessities – is too much like our own.
They say that a good writer is someone that can create an illusion of a daydream, construct another dimension, where the reader can become a hero or a villain, living through the pain and happiness as his own. Maryna Sokolyan has managed to do so in the “Balada dlia Kryvoji Vargy (The Ballade for the Crooked Varga)”, a modern fairytale for adults. […] Apart from usual components, such as a love triangle or rural primitive magic, there is also a half-detective, half-scientific story of two rival scientist plus psychoanalytic recollections of the main character, Lada, trying to make sense of her relations with her mother. […] Sokolyan tells her story very subjectively and that means, very accurately.
“Druh chytacha” newspaper
“A new book series of the respected Kyiv publishing house is named “Exceptis Excipiendis”, that, in translation from Latin means “everything except those that must be excluded” and offers “light reading that encourages thinking”. Thus, it must be the most scare good on the Ukrainian book market. A book of young Kyivite, born in Poltava, Maryna Sokolyan, meets the requirements in the most excellent way. Maryna Sokolyan’s novel is a serious claim for popular literature, as it is written lively and wittily, stylized after “lecture notes” taken by Irma Konyk… here you can even find conclusions and review by scientific adviser. And, most importantly – theme, examined in the novel – tackles the way in which deceit and mystification has become legitimate in the modern society and transformed from unethical methods and commonly condemned into regularly practiced and openly advocated. This theme is acutely topical both in political and philosophical context.”
“The Lviv gazette” on the Kodlo (The Evil Breed) novel
“The reader, seeking in this novel a point of reference, will be disoriented: the multi-layered text/reality will make this search futile, and any discovered constants will seem temporary and hazy. Ethics? Ancient history! Irony? Overly cynical! Research? Forged! References? Falsified! It is only reader that remains. Reader, who assembles the texts out of fragments of questioners, excerpts of lecture notes, author’s descriptions, scientific advisor’s review, list of references, epigraphs by Richelieu, Byron, Marquise de Sade, Marcel Prouste and others. This is not an “experimental study”, but a polyphonic novel, one of the most exciting and thrilling in modern Ukrainian literature. Exciting, because it brings together traits or a psychological and detective novel, historical study and youth series, mystification and a news report. Thrilling, as it tells us about infinity of manipulation, illusory truth, dark sides of human nature and constant mistakes that we make and that teach us nothing.”
“The telegraph” newspaper on the Kodlo (The Evil Breed) novel
“Maryna Sokolyan’s debut is very momentous. It can be an indication of rather serious transformation that are undergoing in the realm of Ukrainian creative thought, when existential, pessimistic and other “terrors” are being replaced by a new literature with piquant, intellectual irony, with spontaneous, improvisatory, light intelligent moves and surprises… Genetically, Maryna Sokolyan’s writings rely on a rich and attractive heritage. E.g. the „Les signes” short story artfully composed in the tradition of spontaneous culturological prose… by its refined lightness of execution and its bright energy the story resembles “Dharma Bums” by Kerouac… Another important tendency that can be spotted in Maryna Sokolyan’s writings is an attempt to synthesize grim humor with absurd… I do not know, how Maryna’s writings will develop further, but one can be sure that she has chosen both extremely interesting and difficult route, that will challenge her with constant exploration, experiments, renewals and, most importantly – discovery of the most authentic traits in herself.”
Anatolij Dnistrovyi, Preface to the “Tsurpalky (Splinters)” short story collection