Kim Wilkins Rosa and the Veil of Gold

ISBN 13: 9780732274078

Rosa and the Veil of Gold

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9780732274078: Rosa and the Veil of Gold
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When an ancient bear made of gold is found walled up in a dilapidated St Petersburg bathhouse, three people are drawn into a journey along the frozen pathways of Russia's primitive and terrible mythology.

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About the Author:

Kim Wilkins is an Australian bestseller who has won an Aurealis Award for both Best Horror Novel and Best Novel. She resides in Brisbane with her husband, son, assorted cats, and far too many books. 

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

One

Rosa Kovalenka was beautiful and clever, but nobody knew the truth about her.

Not Daniel, not Uncle Vasily, and certainly not the American foreman who caught his breath from the run up the stairs before speaking.

“There’s been an accident,†he said.

Rosa leapt up from her desk. “Is anybody hurt?â€

“Not that kind of an accident.†He removed his hard hat, revealing sandy curling hair. “I’m sorry, Miss Kovalenka, but we’ve mistakenly knocked a hole in one of the walls.†His eyes flicked around nervously. “Is Vasily here?â€

“No, Jamie, Uncle Vasily is at lunch.†She offered a reassuring smile. “Show me. Maybe it’s not so bad.â€

Rosa followed Jamie from the office and down the worn stone steps to the street. She had been working in Uncle Vasily’s business for the past six months, and she knew his temper was legendary, which accounted for Jamie’s anxious body language as he strode ahead of her. Two doors up stood the bathhouse. A nineteenth-century structure that had been boarded up for forty years, it was the current object of Vasily’s unstoppable desire to transform every old building in St. Petersburg into luxury apartments.

“It’s the sub-contractors,†Jamie was saying in embarrassed tones. Rosa knew that Jamie nursed a crush on her and revealing this lapse of judgment clearly pained him. “We speak English, they speak Russian. Something got lost in translation and they started pulling out a wall.â€

“Well, they’ll have to put it back,†she said gently.

“They’ve destroyed the plaster work, cracked all the tiles.â€

“Uncle Vasily won’t be pleased.â€

“The men were hoping you’d tell him.†Jamie pushed open the door to the bathhouse; inside was dim and cold. One wall remained uncleaned, the mold of centuries gathered in its antique crevices. The tiles imparted a glassy echo to every sound.

“There’s something else,†Jamie said, leaning close, his clear green eyes holding her gaze. “Inside the wall.â€

“What’s inside the wall?â€

“We didn’t want to move it. But it looks like gold.â€

Rosa brushed Jamie aside and hurried to where the assembled crew stood scratching their heads, arguing in Russian and English. A bright spotlight had been angled directly into the gaping hole. She snapped at the crew to stand back, and leaned in.

Rainbow colors, golden mist, swirls of starlight patterns. An old song, half out of tune. A falling sensation beneath her ribs, an extra breath pressed into her lungs.

Rosa blinked. She had always seen things others didn’t see: the magical world was laid bare to her, where it remained cloaked to most. This hollow in the wall was brimming over with magic. She peered closer and saw why. Shoved upside-down between two bricks was a bear made of gold.

Rosa gasped. “It’s beautiful,†she said, reaching into the cavity. Dust and mold blackened the lower three inches of the bear, but the top half was clean. Rosa’s fingers brushed against it and electricity snapped up her hand and forearm. She snatched her hand away.

The workmen exchanged nervous glances.

“It’s enchanted,†she said, then repeated herself in Russian for the benefit of the locals. One or two of the crew snickered, probably the Americans.

The door to the bathhouse flew open and Vasily stood there, outlined by the sunlight from the street.

“What has happened!†he shrieked in Russian.

“Uncle Vasily, calm down,†Rosa said, hurrying over and taking his fleshy arm. “I think the damage is not so bad, and they will be able to fix it easily. Come, you must see. A wonderful object has been found.â€

Vasily shook his head. “Ay, Roshka. Can I not go to lunch without a disaster befalling me?â€

“It’s not a disaster, Uncle Vasily. It’s a blessing. You’ll see.â€

She led him to the cavity and reached in for the bear. This time there was no electricity. The bear had already marked her. She drew it from its hiding place and Vasily hushed.

“Do you see?†Rosa said. “A hole in a wall is easy to repair. The bear wanted us to find her.â€

“Is it gold, Rosa?â€

“I think so.â€

Vasily touched it and Rosa noted that no electrical charge passed between the bear and her uncle.

“Is it very old and precious?†he said.

“Perhaps.â€

Jamie, obviously made curious by their hushed Russian, broke in. “You should take that to a museum.â€

“What did he say?†Vasily snapped, though Rosa suspected he knew what was being said. He was too proud for misunderstandings, instead relying on Rosa for precise translations.

“Jamie suggests a museum.â€

“It is mine!â€

“I know, Uncle Vasily.â€

Vasily turned on Jamie and roared in darkly inflected English, “I am developer. I am not historian.â€

“It’s all right, Jamie,†Rosa said to the foreman. “We know what to do. Get your men to fix this wall. Uncle Vasily thanks you for your honesty.†She slipped off her jacket and wrapped the bear, then put out her hand to Vasily. He took it firmly.

“I won’t take it to a museum, Roshka,†he said as the door to the bathhouse thudded shut behind them.

“I know,†she said, then tried to cheer him out of his temper by teasing him. “Uncle Vasily, how is that dark cold place ever going to be made into luxury apartments?â€

“You sound like your mother,†he muttered, and Rosa’s heart tumbled.

“Skylights?†she said, mock-brightly.

“Skylights. And heaters. And thick carpet. Somebody will buy them. Somebody always does.â€

She pushed open the heavy wooden door to their offices, and followed Vasily up the bare stone stairs. The first floor was an unfinished demolition site. The second floor was carpeted in green and wallpapered in cream and gold. Behind a partition, draftsmen and secretaries and engineers and accountants worked quietly. Vasily ushered Rosa into his private office and closed the door.

“Show me again,†he said.

Rosa carefully unwrapped the bear and stood it on the desk between the piles of plans and the streaming in-trays. “I think it’s very old, Uncle Vasily,†she said.

“Why do you think it, Rosa?â€

Rosa wouldn’t say that she just felt it, because her mother had felt things and Vasily already spoke too much about El-lena Kovalenka. Her sad shade seemed always in mind.

“The face on the bear looks odd, almost like a human face,†she said.

Vasily ran his fingers over his chin, pulling his bottom lip. His black hair, heavy with hair oil, flopped over his left eye. “Yes, yes,†he said. “She could be worth a fortune.â€

“We should find out how much. We could ask a museumâ€"â€

“It’s mine, Rosa. I won’t hand it over.â€

“I don’t want you to hand it over. I want you only to authenticate it. They won’t take it from you. It was on your property.â€

“I don’t trust historians!†he exclaimed, shooting out of his chair and adopting his customary brooding frown. “I don’t trust museums! They are thieves of the dead.â€

Rosa scratched some of the black muck from the bear with her thumbnail. “I know somebody,†she said quietly. “Somebody who may be able to tell you if it’s authentic or not. He would be discreet.â€

“Who is it?â€

“An old friend. He’s in Novgorod. He’s a . . . researcher.†She avoided the word historian, malign as they were in Vasilyâ̈́...

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780765359735: The Veil of Gold

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0765359731 ISBN 13:  9780765359735
Publisher: Tor Fantasy, 2010
Softcover

9780575075764: Rosa And the Veil Of Gold

Gollancz, 2007
Hardcover

9780732274085: Rosa and the Veil of Gold

Harper..., 2006
Softcover

9780575082250: Rosa and the Veil of Gold

Gollancz, 2008
Softcover

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