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…
I’ve been really enjoying so many of the retellings this year and I was excited for this one because of the Russian lore and the fact that it was chosen by Owlcrate for one of their monthly boxes. I really enjoyed how quirky the characters were and how vividly everything was described. It made it easy to get caught up in the characters’ lives and to picture everything that was going on.
I would say having a basic knowledge, even just reading the lore Vassilissa the Beautiful which this book is based on, would be helpful. Maybe not required to understand what was happening but definitely helpful. The magical realism was strong and wonderful and I enjoyed it. It really added to the creepy atmosphere of the overall story.
Vassa was a really cool main character. She was really snarky and I could have read a full book of just her talking to people. The whole book was very bizarre and one of those that is hard to describe without giving anything away. It was dark, bizarre, and a little disturbing. Definitely one to try for readers who like magical realism but probably not one to start with if it’s a reader’s first try at it.