Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
On Sale Date: September 20, 2016
Young Adult Fiction \ Fairy Tales & Folklore
Ages 13 to 18
Tor Teen 304 pages
My Rating: 4 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 out 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.
Sarah Porter’s Vassa in the Night brings to YA reading a magical story inspired by the Russian folktale “Vasilisa the Beautiful” and transforms it into a dark, edgy, kaleidoscope if inventiveness reflecting all the strange and twisted elements, making it an appealing and must read for fairy tale enthusiast.
If you have ever read an inspired tale, then you know part of the enjoyment is in the discovery of the bits and pieces that are woven into it from the original source. Vassa in the Night does not disappoint as it richly reimagines the classic Russian folktale.
Set in the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn where magic thrives and the nights are long, readers are introduced to the protagonist Vassa who lives with stepmother and two stepsisters, along with a very magical doll named Erg.
Given to Vassa by her mother before she died, Erg is a spitfire, wooden doll with a sassy mouth and a huge appetite for food and trouble. Erg is also her secret companion, a good-luck charm that has a penchant for stealing which causes plenty of unrest in Vassa’s already complicated family life.
When an errand to get light bulbs from the local convenience store leads Vassa to Babs Yagg, the strange and twisted owner, she finds herself mixed up in a witch’s curse with three nights to outsmart this cunning witch as the nights seem to never end in Brooklyn.
Vivid, dark and with lots of fairy tale panache, Ms. Porter gives readers an exciting new rendition to love. Vassa’s growth is evident and the trip is completely fun and expectedly strange with Baba Yaga acting as the catalyst to her journey. The revolving house on chicken legs and the new interpretation of the black rider, the disembodied hands, and the three magical tasks were familiar, yet wildly unexpected as well. The swans on the cover become apparent once you read Vassa in the Night and Erg is sure to keep you on your toes with her sticky fingers, while Baba threatens to take off your head. Around each corner is something strange and delightful.
Recommended to readers who appreciate retellings, tales of twisted magic, and a vivid writing. Vassa in the Night takes all the familiar elements and tosses them onto their head, leaving the read spinning in the best of ways.