Vassa in the Night was featured in the September FairyLoot box and I was quite excited to read this new take on Russian folklore. I’ve heard of the myth of Baba Yaga before, but rarely set in modern days (except for Lost Girl I think), so the longer I waited for my FairyLoot box to arrive, the more curious I got. I am sorry to say that the excitement did not hold up.
Have you ever watched a really artsy independent film and thought that it was simply stunning in its visual work, but by the end of the movie you had absolutely no idea what you’ve actually watched? That would very much sum up my experience reading Vassa! There were words and they formed sentences, but sometimes it still didn’t make sense to me. Several times, I had to re-read passages simply because I didn’t get what just happened. It wasn’t even difficult language like in old Shakespearean tragedies, but rather usual every day vocabulary and I still struggled somehow.
You KNOW that I love myself some magical realism, but there needs to be some logic to it. I thoroughly believe that this was my biggest issue with the book. Vassa’s Brooklyn is speckled with magic around every corner. Nights that last a whole weekend long, shops that dance on chicken legs, our heroine has a living wooden doll as her closest friend, so one would think that magic is generally acceptable in this world, right? No! Vassa still continued to be baffled and confused about so many things that were happening, while she just accepted others without the blink of an eye. I just couldn’t understand which incidences counted as “unusual” magic and which were generally okay for the human populace.
It didn’t help much that I just got more annoyed with Vassa and her doll Erg as time continued. You know something is weird when an unattached hand grows on you more than a human … however, despite everything I just said, the descriptions were still vivid and beautiful at times. Night in itself is something magical and this was a truly magical, at times disturbing, tale. As of now this is a standalone, but from what I hear Sarah Porter might be thinking about expanding this into a series. I have no idea how I feel about that, because I still have to work through some of the things that happened in this book.
Fazit: 3/5 stars! Partially I am still confused about what I read. Also – beware of unattached body parts!
Did you read Vassa? How did you feel about it?