By Shitij Sharma

Genre: Mafia Fiction

Rating: 😦 😦

Goodreads rating: 3.71

Goodreads summary: He stood there watching him, smoking a cigarette, silently waiting.
“Where is my money?” he asked. He spoke softly, as if scolding a child for his misbehaviour, trying not to come across as too harsh.
“I swear to you, I didn’t take it. I would never betray you,” the man sitting across from him replied. He was tied to a chair, unable to move, the rope cutting into his wrists.
He took two steps forward, towering over the man in the chair, well within his personal space. He smacked him hard across the face. The man and the chair were both knocked to the floor. He caught hold of his collar and pulled the chair with him still in it back onto its feet. He took two steps back.
“Now, shall we do this again?”

THE GIRL FROM ROSTOV is a crime thriller/love story, but more importantly it is also a story of loss and the range of human emotions that a person goes through following it. The orphaned niece of a Russian gangster/international spy and arms dealer must find out who killed her uncle and why. She teams up with the son of a millionaire who has his own set of demons from the past.
* A couple of chapters in the beginning of the book are situated in Russia while most of the other scenes take place in India.

When Sharma sent me this book to read, I was naturally very excited. It sounded fun, interesting, and about a part of the world that I don’t normally read about. However, unfortunately I had to put this book on my DNF list after about 60 pages. It just had SO MANY grammatical errors that I was having trouble understanding, and reading it was becoming a chore rather than enjoyable.  That being said, the book had a lot of redeeming qualities, and I think after a thorough editing job, it would be fantastic. 

The Plot…

Even if you take away the fact that I could barely get through a sentence without having to go back and reread, even the plot conjunctions were poor. Sometimes I didn’t even realize that Sharma had changed timelines until I was a few paragraphs in and once more absolutely lost.  I think the changing timelines was a good idea, as it gave the reader a better understanding of the history behind everything while still keeping it interesting, but it was too difficult to understand when he switched.  Had this been cleaned up, I think my enjoyment would have GONE WAY UP!  I liked how he managed to incorporate so much history of the brothers into such a short amount of space, because it felt like you were really there.

I was under the impression that the book was going to be about a girl who had a mafia father/uncle. However, it seemed (as far as I read) to be all about the uncle and father, except for a short segment in the beginning.  That being said, I do believe that the plot was going to be good, it seemed like a good concept and it would probably eventually get to the girl.  

There was constant action throughout, to the point where it was jumping from one key event to another without regard for the “slower” moments in between.  For me, this took away from the characterization and stuff which I love, but other people could have thoroughly enjoyed that style of writing.

I actually love what he was doing with the plot as a whole, it was just the confusion that hurt it. Sharma had so much action that seemed totally realistic, and I found myself being drawn in at parts despite everything that went against that. 

The Characters…

The characters felt real, despite how fast the book moved, which is rare in a book by an amateur author. I feel like Sharma and The Girl from Rostov have real potential, it is just the lack of polish that threw me off and didn’t allow me to finish.  Although the characters were not extremely developed, nor was time wasted in doing this, the details he did have helped to make them seem like actual people. (I also stopped early so I feel like more characterization will come in the future)

Overall, I would give The Girl from Rostov a 8/10 for characterization and character realism, and that’s why this book received 2 stars rather than one. 

Ugh Moments…

THE FREAKING GRAMMAR THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!!! I feel bad bashing an indie book like this, because I know that they don’t have the resources that other novelists do, but this was something that would have been easily changed by a native English speaker. It wasn’t typos or the occasional run-on sentence, this just didn’t make sense.  Once he finds an editor, I think he will be a major force in the author world. 

In Summary…

The bottom line is that this book might have potential, but I couldn’t tell based on the many errors throughout. I highly recommend that Sharma edits thoroughly and releases a more polished edition, because then I might give it a second try. But, until then, unless you are a detective (or maybe just a little less OCD about grammar than me) I don’t recommend picking it up off the shelf.

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Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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