Title: Vassa in the Night
Author: Sarah Porter
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Re-Telling
Release Date: September 20th, 2016
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…
Summary from Goodreads.com
My Review: This is one of those books that kept popping up in my Goodreads and Amazon pages as suggested reads and I thought it looked interesting, but man there are some very mixed reviews about it out there so I was a little hesitant. I downloaded the audiobook and started that way, which I think was good since the book was a little slow to start in the beginning. The narrator did a fantastic job though and I loved her voice and pace as the novel unfolded. I ended up half listening half reading the book because there were some events that I could not wait until I had to get back into the car to listen too.
Vassa in the Night is based off a Russian Folktale, Vasilisa the Beautiful, that I had actually not heard of before. I did not read it before this book either, because I wanted to just go into it not really knowing a whole lot about it. Which in hindsight might have not been the best idea because I was thoroughly confused for the first few chapters of this book and reading the folktale might have helped with that. On the other hand, I think this book is meant to be a little fantastical, so some confusion might have been normal.
Vassa herself was very interesting character, lost after the death of her mother, she does not really know where she belongs. Except for her doll that has been her companion for six years, she feels alone. The book explores her ability to find out who she is and what she is going to choose to stand up and fight for. She is stumbling through life at the moment and as readers we are right there with her trying to navigate the world she is in and the obstacles she faces that seem impossible much of the time, but then have very simple solutions. She has quite a bit of help from unexpected places as well, to guide her to her ultimate end goal.
While the magical elements of the novel were no surprise to me, the amount of bloodshed did catch me a little off guard. I guess it shouldn’t have, since outside the BY’s store there are detached heads on pikes, but the first half of the book did not have a lot of things happen that were bloody. The second half though, there are quite a few moments that were pretty gruesome. Not stomach turning, but just things I did not expect. It took on a darker tone than the first half of the book.
Reading this review, I know I am not describing the book very much, but honestly, I could not do that in a simple review. There is way too much happening in this book and giving all of those details away would just ruin it I think. I liked this book, I did not love it. I really did not love the ending, but I read that there might be another book in this world eventually which I think is necessary. If you want to read something that is very different from anything else out there right now and just strange, then I would give this book a try. I would read the folktale it is based on first, just so you have some idea of what is going to unfold as you enter this world. I will be watching to see if there is a sequel in the future.