The essence of all Russian mythology is encapsulated on one gorgeous, astronomically expensive Fabergé egg, intended for the prince of Russia. There’s the Firebird, democratic if reluctant granter of wishes, biding his time before going up in a poof of smoke. There’s the Ice Dragon, who snoozes through winter; when he wakes, spring comes. And there’s Baba Yaga, the witchy meddler in destinies, who may or may not eat children, but who certainly lives in a house with chicken legs. If only these creatures existed just in myth, things would be a whole lot easier for Cat and Elena, two girls who happen to look very similar and whose paths coincide one day when a train breaks down on its way to the winter ball in St. Petersburg. Elena is so poor she eats wild turnips and acorns, if she’s lucky. Cat is rich and a little snobby, though she doesn’t know it. And none of their adventures would have happened if it weren’t for the egg (worth more than both their heads) going astray. Gregory Maguire, the creator of Wicked, gives us not just adventure but a memorable coterie of mythological creatures with a whole lot of sass. Grade 6 & up.