Blurb from Goodreads …
Vassa in the Night is an enchanting, modern retelling of the Russian folktale “Vassilissa the Beautiful” for young adults by the critically-acclaimed author, Sarah Porter. Leigh Bardugo, New York Times bestselling author of the Grisha Trilogy, calls it, “A dark, thoroughly modern fairy tale crackling with wit and magical mayhem.”
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….
Inspired by the Russian folktale “Vassilissa the Beautiful” and her years of experience teaching creative writing to students in New York City public schools, acclaimed author Sarah Porter weaves a dark yet hopeful tale about a young girl’s search for home, love, and belonging.
Dark. Twisty. Modern. Magical. Fantastical. Witty.
What kind of dark and twisty fucked up shit is this?!
It’s a retelling of an old Russian Folklore, Vassilissa the Beautiful. Never heard of it before I read this book. Now I need to find me this Russian folklore tale, and read the crap outta it.
So, we have Vassa who comes from a broken home. Mum is dead, Dad left, and she’s stuck with her apathetic Stepmother, and her two step/half sisters. The live in Brooklyn, where it’s Night nearly all the time. Oh, and she has a very magical doll named Erg. And she’s small. And fiesty. She hides in Vassa’s clothes all the time, because she’s a secret.
There is a place called BY’s, that is open every night. And they are known to decapitate you, if you steal from them. Apparently, completely legal. (Yikes! OFF WITH THEIR HEAD!) Well, Vassa and Erg go there one night to get light bulbs. Cause her half sister Stephanie is a bitch. When she enters BY’s, all hell breaks loose.
Babs is the owner of BY’s (Baba Yaga, get it?). And her creep ass minion hands, that remind you of Thing from the Addams Family, names Dexter and Sinister, try and set up Vassa for theft and well, we know what happens. BUT Vassa saves her neck on account of a technicality. And then agrees to stay for three nights to work the night shift, but must also stay on the property when she’s not working. Can I just say hella-creepy!
Um, this is the part where even weirder. You can sense there is magical elements. Somewhat real, somewhat fantastical. Cause you know, Dexter and Sinister. And then there is the humanoid-like mystical being that rides on a motorcycle, and the swans. Dem swans. I love those birds. They are amazing. Vassa then comes to learn that she is there for a purpose, and she must figure it out. Which is rather hard to do with a hag like Babs around. Babs is always trying to ruin Vassa.
While the writing was rather dark, twisted, and a little morbid at times, I did rather enjoy comparisons made, and the dry, sarcastic, witty banter Vassa would dish out, especially to Babs. There were a few scenes I totally laughed out loud too. Almost thought I woke my Mum up!
I did feel like the ending fell a little flat, but at the same time, it was open enough for a potential sequel. And if you were paying attention, it goes to show you that blood does not equate family. Family is reserved for those that are there for you 100%. Human, magical, or otherwise.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would totally recommend it. 🙂