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Vassa in the Night (A YA Book Review)

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Vassa in the Night very loosely follows a Russian folktale called Vasilisa the Beautiful. Set in modern day Brooklyn, Vassa is an orphan left to live with her step-mother, half-sister, and step-sister. Unfortunately for Vassa, her half-sister hates her guts and challenges her to go to the creepy-chicken feet dancing-beheading—skulls on a fence post-store called BYs. BYs stands for the witch’s name, Baba Yagga. Or in this case, Babs. Vassa has a bit of a death wish and goes to BYs to spite her sister, then getting caught “stealing.” Instead of getting beheaded, she finds a loophole and Babs gives her three nights of work aka impossible tasks.

Throughout the novel, Vassa finds unlikely allies: her talking wooden doll, a complicated boy named Tomin, some swans and Night itself (which from the prelude onward is a living entity). At its heart, this story is about loving yourself and allowing others to love you. But it’s just strange and dark. Kind of in the style of Neil Gaiman, but then again, not. I liked parts of this book and other parts I didn’t think were necessary, didn’t understand or just thought they were gross/weird. I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars.

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