Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter


*I read this in January 2017. I wrote the review in March. I read it as a hardcover. As always, this is my honest opinion.

This book was just weird. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. It’s in this weird in between of a story I want to like, but can’t like.

Summary (I’m copying the one from Goodreads because I can’t even begin explaining this plot):

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.
In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.
But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…

It seems interesting enough, and looking back, I understand a few more things. In my Russian history class (I am THAT person who takes Russian history), I learned that Baba Yaga is a classic folklore character. She’s basically a witch-flying broomstick and all-and her character makes more sense in the story.

Also, Vassa in the Night is a retelling of the Russian folklore of “Vasilisa the Beautiful,” I believe. Reading the Wikipedia article on it has explained a lot, actually. However, I couldn’t engage with this story at all. As it progressed, I understood less and less what was going on. It was just strange.

This is from my Goodreads update toward the end of the book:

“”I wish I could say that I have the foggiest clue what it all means, but I really, truly don’t.” -Actual quote from the book. I believe the author meant it literally”

It’s not a bad book, and if you like strange, surreal reads, you will probably enjoy it. However, this is not a book for everyone.


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