King Stakh's Wild Hunt tells the tale of Andrey Belaretsky, a young folklorist who finds himself stranded by a storm in the castle of Marsh Firs, the seat of the fading aristocratic Yanovsky family. Offered refuge by Nadzeya, the last in the Yanovskys’ line, he learns of the family curse and terrible apparitions that portend her early death and trap her in permanent, maddening fear. As Belaretsky begins to unravel the secrets of the Yanovskys, he himself becomes quarry of the Wild Hunt, silent phantoms who stalk the marshes on horseback and deliver death to all who cross their path. He must uncover the truth behind the ghostly hunt to release Nadzeya from her fate and undo the curse that hangs over the marshes.
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A jewel of Belarusian classic literature, King Stakh's Wild Hunt is one of Karatkevich's most critically acclaimed works that also inspired a 1979 film adaptation. Based on an ancient European legend, this suspense masterpiece taps into the imagery of the country’s rich cultural heritage to offer both a haunting piece of gothic intrigue as well as a profound meditation on the destiny of the Belarusian people. The canvas of this gothic story includes a personal theme of the author’s sad concern for his nation’s destiny. The search for the truth that unites the novella’s characters is in fact the author’s contemplation - which he passes on to the reader - of the society in the late XIXth century, its conditions and its prospects for the future.