Rosa and the Veil of Gold, by Kim Wilkins

When an ancient golden bear is found hidden in the wall of an old St Petersburg bathhouse, Rosa Kovalenka calls on her ex-boyfriend, Daniel St Clare, to examine it. Daniel has seen nothing like this bear, but is curious and sets out with his colleague Em to have it examined by an expert. But a series of inexplicable events causes them to become lost and in the dead of night they unwittingly cross the divide between their own world, Mir, and the land of enchantments, Skazki.

As Daniel and Em wander the wilds of Skazki, trying to return the bear to its rightful owner and find a way back home, Rosa is back in Mir, desperately trying to help them. She possesses ancient magic, but it is not yet strong enough to cross the divide and rescue Daniel, the man that she loves.

Rosa and the Veil of Gold is a fantasy set in both modern day and historical Russia, as well as in its magical realms, Skazki. There are some familiar events and characters – including various Tsars and Rasputin, who plays an interesting role. There are also, as befits any fantasy, many unfamiliar beings adding danger and mystique to the adventures of Daniel and the icy Em.

This is an absorbing read, with the Russian setting adding plenty of interest.

Rosa and the Veil of Gold, by Kim Wilkins
Harper Collins, 2005