Review: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter


Published: September 20th, 2016

Publishing house: Tor Teen

Genres: Young Adults, Fork Lore, Fantasy, Retellings

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb from Good Reads:

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…

This book is weird.

It’s a good weird in my opinion, but it’s still weird as heck. I didn’t know it was a retelling of Slavic folklore when I started reading it, so I was confused but very intrigued. I googled it about 50 pages in. It was then an “AHHH okay” when discovered the origins of the narrative. I haven’t read too many retellings of classic stories before so this was a very new style and kind of storytelling than I’m accustomed to.

I did enjoy the characters and how Babs Yagg was almost Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter brand evil. Vassa is sympathetic her family life is sort of terrible in a nearly Cinderella way.  Once I got past the fantastical ridiculousness of the world, (which isn’t a bad thing it’s just weird) the story was entertaining and I found it a very fast read. The motorcycle rider is amazingly mysterious, and the love interest has a complex, although short arc that can change the way readers see him between his first appearance and the last.

Turn offs for the book would most likely be being unfamiliar with Slavic folklore and walking into the story unprepared and trying to figure it out. Like I said I googled the book early on and learned about Vasilisa the Beautiful and different Baba Yaga stories, so that helped me personally enjoy the story so much more.

This is not the kind of book that I would have picked up on my own. This was the first book I got as part of the Uppercase book box subscription, and it was an excellent introduction to that service. I signed up for it to get different books that I usually do, and that’s exactly what I got.

Overall I think this story had the typical fairy tale arc. It’s a quick read and very interesting to see the folk tales from other cultures. I highly recommend picking this book up if you are looking for something very out of the box.

Until Next time Internet,



1 thought on “Review: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter”

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