- Page Count: 296
- Release Date: September 20, 2016
- My Rating: 3 stars
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…
This retelling is set in an enchanted Brooklyn where night lasts for long spurts. Vassa has a talking doll that’s always getting her in trouble. There’s a big store in their area that beheads shoplifters and leaves their heads out front. Vassa (Vassilissa) goes in one night and is basically taken prisoner by Babs (Baba Yaga) after her talking doll gets her in trouble.
A ton of the familiar bits of the Vassilissa folktale are woven throughout this somewhat gritty, abstract story in the most creative ways!! Like Vassa has to stay in the store for three nights and clean every drop of blood out of the snow or Babs will chop off her head. And if she tries to run away she’ll turn into a swan.
I love fantasy books with Russian elements, so I was mostly into HOW the retelling made everything fit than the actual story itself. I liked the beginning with Vassa and her stepsisters, but just wasn’t that into the story itself eventually as it got less whimsical. It got kind of unpleasant in the end and I just personally didn’t enjoy reading it very much. The writing was still gorgeous, though!!