C.G. Drews's Reviews > Vassa in the Night

Vassa in the Night by Sarah  Porter
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really liked it
bookshelves: magical-fantasy, read-2016, retelling, young-adult, ya-without-romance, foodie-fiction

Well that was COMPLETELY BIZARRE...but in a good way! You know what makes sense in this book? Absolutely nothing. Welcome to Russian foklore! We have houses on chicken legs and talking dolls and hands (sans bodies) gallivanting around. It's just...it's all so weird and you honestly have to go into this kind of book EXPECTING it to be weirdly wonderfully bizarre or you'll end up exploding 89% of an eyeball. I read Deathless earlier this year and it has some of the same folklore so I was ready. Plus I love Russian things. I've read a fair bit of Russian folklore and IT'S JUST SUPER WEIRD AND SUPER COOL.

I mean, this is set in America...but. Still. (Lowkey sad it's not set in Russia tbh.)

But even though I thought it wasn insanely goodly weird...I did have a fair few problems with it. Which kind of makes me sob because I SUFFERED FOR THIS BOOK. Because firstly (A) it was super expensive dangit, and (B) for some reason the ink from the cover rubbed off on my hands while reading so now I look like I murdered a ballpoint pen. #TrueBookwormSuffering

Anyway. List time!

L I K E S:
Vassa was a really cool protagonist. She was pretty snarky but still kind of adorable WHICH IS A GLORIOUS COMBINATION. And she totally just went with it when everything was going crazy.
The magic is (mostly) accepted by the world. Which I liiiiike. I mean, there's this convenience store that BEHEADS SHOPLIFTERS. So. People are just like "yep that's a dangerous store over yonder, coolio" instead of screaming and moving to Madagascar for safety reasons. I LIKE WORLDS LIKE THIS. Magical realism ftw.
The magic is also CRAZY. I maybe mentioned this book is weird a few times? Because it is. like, for instance, it starts off with the nights getting longer. And I don't mean sunset coming later, I mean, a minute lasting an indeterminable amount of time. And everyone is literally like "okay this is annoying but also whatever".
• Also there's NO ROMANCE. I mean, Vassa might be considered to have a crush on someone at one point...but there was no logic/chemistry/build-up to it so I consider it a non-romance which is equal parts refreshing and awesome.
• DUDE, I LOVE HOW LAID BACK THE WORLD WAS. I swear I accidentally fell into Australia here. If someone had said "she'll be right mate" after a beheading, I wouldn't have been surprised.
It's a retelling! Specifically of Vassalisa and her doll..and Baba Yaga. But dude, retellings are the best. My favourite. I'll take five.
Creeptastic moments? WE GOTCHA. Especially at the end! There were some seriously ewwww moments that made me shudder. Which I approve of. Creep me out, yes please and thank you. That's what I'm here for.
So it's actually quite dark! But it mixes the humour in and the weirdness so it doesn't seem dark and then -- WHOOMP SOMEONE'S GETTING THEIR HEART PULLED OUT THEIR THROAT. Fun times. (Well...not really. But you my get my drift.) (I hope.) (Probably not.)

D I S L I K E S:
But what were anyone's motivations?? I still have no idea. I mean, Vassa is sick of her half-sister being passive-aggressive at her, so she goes off to this DEADLY CONVENIENCE STORE and gets inducted into working for Baby Yaga (or she'll be murdered). But like Vassa had another AWESOME sister who loved her unconditionally...so why was Vassa in the "no one loves me" mind set??!?? Huh?? And like, why would she go potentially die at this shop to spite her other sister?? It just DID NOT COMPUTE.
Plus I got confused. A LOT. I think this is due to how whacky everything was. But like I'm still not really sure what Baba Yaga was trying to do...at all. Like wut now say when huh how.
It actually got tedious with the pacing/plot. Because Vassa is working in a convenience store on chicken legs for 89% of the book. THEY BARELY GO ANYWHERE ELSE. This does get dull, I admit. And there were long random soliloques from minor characters. And bizarre detours that didn't really fit. And I HONESTLY DIDN'T KNOW WHERE THE BOOK WAS GOING MOST OF THE TIME.

ALL IN ALL: I enjoyed it, but I'm a little disappointed. I expected the weirdness, but I wanted a bit more solidness with the plot. And I wish the creeptastic moments had been spread throughout the WHOLE thing instead of mostly at the end. But like IT WAS SO COOL AND CREEPY AND I JUST LIKED IT. Plus I'm totally addicted to Russian things so. I was doomed.

Also reason #9589 it is NOT SAFE TO GO SHOPPING. You never know if the store is gonna behead you for being annoying. 1/10...would not recommend ever going shopping ever anywhere goodbye.

** QUOTES **

"Babs is planning to chop my head off in the morning," I explain, "unless I can get every trace of blood out of the snow. I'd run away, but if I try it I'll turn int a swan. So I just wanted to ask, is it legal for her to kill me?"
Panglin starts and paws his own face as if I had just presented him with some sadistic riddle. "Are you asking me this...simply to mock the limits of my legal perspicacity? To cast me in a labyrinth and laugh while I strain to decipher each flex and bar of the way?"
"No, n," I say. "I'm totally sincere. I'd really like to know."

Chelsea snorts with disbelief, clamps an arm around my shoulders, and starts hustling me towards the street. "Tomorrow you can send the owner a note explaining everything. Say that you're terribly sorry but your family refuses to let you work for a serial killer. Blame me if you want. Oh, my sister's so overprotective! She just wouldn't listen when I told her dismembering people doesn't bother me!"

The cake, I have to admit, looks delicious, with fat cherries layered in custard and dark chocolate pastry.
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Reading Progress

February 19, 2016 – Shelved
February 19, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
October 14, 2016 – Started Reading
October 14, 2016 –
page 84
28.38% "Because anything that even remotely whispers RUSSIAN FOLKLORE equals me being there to eat it immediately.\n(Also that wasn't exactly whispering BUT SHHH DON'T GET HUNG UP ON SHOUTY DETAILS.)"
October 14, 2016 –
page 187
63.18% "You know what makes sense in this book? Absolutely nothing. GOTTA LOVE RUSSIAN FOLKLORE."
October 15, 2016 – Shelved as: magical-fantasy
October 15, 2016 – Shelved as: read-2016
October 15, 2016 – Shelved as: retelling
October 15, 2016 – Shelved as: ya-without-romance
October 15, 2016 – Shelved as: young-adult
October 15, 2016 – Shelved as: foodie-fiction
October 15, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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message 1: by Reynita (new)

Reynita ★ The Night Reader ★ Great review!! I haven't read it and this book sounds great. ^^

message 2: by Ezgi (new)

Ezgi Tülü I so want to read this one!

Emily (theBookishLounge) I wasn't really sure what to expect when I added this book to my TBR except RUSSIAN FOLKLORE. But now all the creepiness and magic you've described is making me really excited!! I just hope the bizarreness doesn't make me too confused :D

C.G. Drews @Reynita: It's totally worth trying if you get the chance!

@Ezgi: Yesssss, do it!!

@Emily: I hope you don't get too confused either, haha. I guess I enjoyed the story more than like...Idek, the plot because I'm still not sure what they're trying to achieve haha. But still a good book!

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

either i am confused or you murdered a ballpoint pen and are confessing that you never actually read it.

message 6: by ammaarah (new) - added it

ammaarah Russian folklore! That's all I needed to put this book higher up on my TBR.

C.G. Drews @Adrian: I have no idea what you just said.

@Zara: Russian folklore is the best!!

Zaynah Abbas Cake....

message 9: by Amidala (new) - added it

Amidala I feel bad I bought this book....once again I was taken in by the cover 🤦🏽 it's everything like you said, Russian folklore and nothing makes sense. It reminds me of The Master and Marguerite atmosphere, I don't know why

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