Isabella Krotkova

I am actively seeking a publisher for my English translation of Isabella’s mystery novel ‘A will with simple conditions’. Isabella herself holds the relevant foreign rights.

Isabella Krotkova (b. 1973) is a multi-award winning writer of mystery/suspense novels and short stories. Isabella lives in Tambov, Russia. She attended a specialist music school in Tambov, and went on to study history at the University of Tambov and (by correspondence) law at the Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow).

She is a violinist in the Tambov Symphony Orchestra.

She has written five novels. All have been published in Russia, and in Germany by Za-Za Verlag.

A Will with simple conditions

Marta has never known her father, nor anything about him. Arriving home after work late one evening, she is greeted on her doorstep by a man claiming to be her late father’s lawyer. The lawyer talks his way into her flat, and reads her part of her father’s will, under which she is to inherit a ‘seven-room flat’ in ‘the centre of town’. There are conditions attached. She must move into the flat the next day and sleep there every night, without exception, for eleven nights. She must also leave a portrait of her father on the living room wall exactly where it is for the whole eleven days and nights.

The flat is beautiful, and Marta is delighted. Only eleven days until it is hers … But why do no local taxi drivers know where the flat is, and why does no regular transport serve the area, so that she always has to travel to and from it on the mysterious number 15 tram or accept lifts from the equally mysterious driver of a black limousine? Why is it always foggy and dank in the district around her flat? Why does time run differently there? And whose is the plaintive voice calling her out of sleep, summoning her to the portrait in the living room?

She starts to believe that something is gradually changing in the portrait. That her father is moving, almost imperceptibly, a step at a time over the bridge on which he is standing, towards the foreground, towards Marta. And sometimes she can hear the leaves on the trees in the picture rustling and feel the wind blowing.

And the ‘seven-room flat’ appears to have only six rooms.

The lure of owning the flat keeps Marta returning to it, but as the days progress, she is caught up in a caravan of strange events that leave her with shredded nerves. She doubts her own sanity, she drinks too much, and she argues with her beloved Sasha. Her eyes start to lose their colour, and increasingly she feels that she is ‘no longer there’. Eventually, she understands that she is dying, and tries to leave the flat before it is too late. And that is when she makes the last and most horrifying discoveries of all.

Extracts from a review of ‘A will with simple conditions’ by Vladimir Andreyev, Supervisor (since 1972) of postgraduate studies at Michurinsk State Pedagogical Institute; journalist, local historian.

‘… You cannot tear yourself away from the page; you find yourself subject to the most uncomplicated desire to know what happens next and how it all ends …

‘ … You are swept away―by what, exactly? The storyline conjured by Isabella? The element of the outré, perhaps. Or the devastating complexity of the heroine’s relationship with the portrait of her father, hanging in the chic flat she is to inherit on fulfilment of certain simple conditions. Or the portrait’s own life that opens up as you read …

‘… Isabella draws her narrative thread with confidence, weaving and unweaving the patterns and motifs of her subject matter to bring her tangled narrative to a limpid and luminous conclusion. One cannot help marvelling at her extraordinary clarity of purpose, her deft command of form, her clear authorial voice …’

Other novels by Isabella Krotkova

‘The bar on the outskirts’, ‘The face beneath the black hood’, ‘June will never end’, ‘Timea’s magic mirror’


Novel ‘A will with simple conditions’

Prize winner (the highest category outside the top 3), International Book of the Year Award, Germany, 2017, Suspense Category. Over 800 entries in total, from 35 countries.

Nominated for the 2017 Gogol Prize

Novel ‘Timea’s magic mirror’

Prize winner (the highest category outside the top 3), International Book of the Year Award, Germany, 2019, Fantasy and Mystery Category

Nominated for the 2019 Gogol Prize

Novel ‘The bar on the outskirts’

Nominated for the 2016 NOS award

Short story ‘Count to ten’

First place in the ‘Full Moon’ category in the 2017 Kovdoria ‘Grand Final’ literary competition

Short story ‘God’s younger sister’

Second place in the 2017 Vladimir Korolenko Literary Competition, hosted by the St Petersburg Litterateur Union, as a result of which the story was published in Russian in both England and Germany, and included in a hardback anthology of prizewinners published in 2020.

Short story ‘Burn like a violin’

Finalist (in the top ten) in the short fantasy story competition ‘Polden’ (the brainchild of Boris Strugatsky), 2017.

Short story ‘An unknown black telephone’

Finalist in the 2019 ‘Astra Nova’ short fantasy story competition

Short story ‘God’s gift’

Finalist in the autumn 2019 ‘Prolet Fantazy’ literary competition

Short story ‘No. 5 Peschanaya Street’

Finalist in the 2019 short fantasy story competition ‘Polden’

Short story ‘Shtekman’s Crib’

Finalist in the 2021 short fantasy story competition ‘Polden’