Saturday, November 12, 2016

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Vassa in the Night
Sarah Porter
4/5 stars

In Vassa's working-class Brooklyn neighborhood, the dancing (yes, dancing, and on chicken legs) convenience store (BY's) has a strict policy for dealing with shoplifters: they are beheaded, their heads stuck on poles around the parking lot.  Run by Babs and her two bodiless-hand henchmen, BY's is a formidable place that people rarely frequent.

Vassa has to make an emergency late night trip, and finds herself an unwilling BY employee for four days--or until her death.  Luckily, Vassa has one ally to help her: an enchanted doll (Erg) left to Vassa by her mother.  Together, Vassa and Erg fight Babs and the hands, to free Vassa from the nightmare, and Brooklyn from an evil witch.

Vassa in the Night is a fun, exciting, and sometime moving retelling of the Wassalissa and Baba Yaga (Russian) fairy tales.  My credulity was never strained, regardless of how bizarre the plot got, as Porter created an excellent and believable world.  Vassa was a likable, engaging heroine and it was easy to care about her and her predicament.  It was by turns dark and humorous, with good writing and a plot that moved quickly, making it hard to put down the book.

Overall, I enjoyed this enormously and would recommend it to YA and adult fantasy readers, especially fans of Neil Gaiman and A. Lee Martinez.

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