The protagonist of the novel; a 17-year-old Jewish boy who has grown up in Leningrad. He is the son of Mother and Abraham Beniov, a famous poet who was arrested by the Soviet government… (read full character analysis)
An extremely handsome young soldier imprisoned after being accused of deserting his battalion after he snuck off in search of sex and failed to return before being noticed. He and Lev are sent by Colonel… (read full character analysis)
A sniper working with Korsakov's partisans, Lev's love interest and David's grandmother during the prologue. Vika is described as predatory and athletic and is later revealed to be NKVD. She believes that… (read full character analysis)
A high-ranking Einsatzgruppen (death squad) officer in the Nazi army. He's a very large and strong man and keeps teenage Russian girls as sex slaves, and enjoys playing chess. When one of his captives… (read full character analysis)
Lev and Vika's grandson and the author of the novel. He wants to write about his grandfather's experience during the Siege of Leningrad.
Lev's mother, mother as well to Taisya and previously married to Abraham Beniov. She fights with Lev when he wants to stay in Leningrad rather than evacuate, and regularly calls him "her idiot." She does eventually evacuate with Taisya, leaving Lev behind.
Lev's kid sister, daughter to Mother and Father. She evacuates Leningrad with her mother at the beginning of the siege.
One of Lev's friends and his original romantic interest in the Kirov apartment building. She's a talented cellist and favors Grisha. After they get caught looting, she leaves Lev behind to be arrested by Russian soldiers even though he saves her from the same fate.
Twin to Grisha, one of Lev and Vera's friends in the Kirov apartment building.
Twin to Oleg, one of Lev and Vera's friends in the Kirov apartment building. He is Vera's love interest.
The Colonel's Daughter
Daughter of Colonel Grechko. She is well-fed and about to be married.
A friend and early conquest of Kolya's. Lev imagines that she was very beautiful before the war, and she is extremely kind.
One of the surgeons who stays with Sonya.
One of the surgeons who sleeps on Sonya's floor.
A towering man in Leningrad who tricks Kolya and Lev into thinking he can sell them eggs. They discover he's a cannibal butcher, intent on killing and eating them.
The Giant's Wife
Wife of the giant, a cannibal butcher.
A young boy charged by his grandfather to keep chickens safe on top of a roof in Leningrad. When Kolya and Lev find Vadim, his grandfather is dead, only one chicken is left, and he's close to death due to the cold and starvation.
One of the girls kept as a sex slave for the Nazi soldiers.
A teenage girl kept as a sex slave for Nazi soldiers.
A teenage girl kept as a sex slave for Nazi soldiers. She doesn't speak.
One of the teenage girls kept as sex slaves for Nazi soldiers.
The leader of the Russian partisans (Vika, Markov). He's shot by Nazis when they discover the partisans' safe house.
One of the partisans working with Korsakov and Vika. He's accused by a Russian prisoner of being a partisan and is shot by Nazis.
Abraham Beniov (Lev’s Father)
Lev's father, wife of Mother and father to Taisya. He was a semi-famous Jewish poet who was "disappeared" by the NKVD after his book Petir was deemed offensive in 1937, four years before the German siege of Leningrad began.