Friday, 30 September 2016

Vassa in the Night Blog Tour: Q&A + Review

Good day friends! Today I'm lucky to be taking part in the Vassa in the Night Blog Tour. Thanks to both Raincoast for having me and Sarah for taking the time to answer some questions. Vassa in the Night is a re-telling of a few popular Russian fairy tales. I'm unfamiliar with both of them, but that didn't stop me from being super intrigued by the synopsis. Read on for a Q&A and my review. 


I write stories that seem to me to be quite true enough for all practical purposes. Among them are VASSA IN THE NIGHT, THE LOST VOICES TRILOGY, and the forthcoming WHEN I CAST YOUR SHADOW and TENTACLE AND WING. Realism makes little sense to me and I experience more truth in the fantastic. I always have new novels underway, both Young Adult and Grownup/ Literary/ Speculative. When not writing my own weird stuff, I can often be found leading creative writing workshops with amazing young NYC public-school writers via Teachers & Writers Collaborative. Or I might be drawing, or gardening, or wandering wraithlike through the streets. I live in Brooklyn, land of mystery, with my awesome husband Todd and our two cats, Jub Jub and Delphine. websitetwitterfacebookgoodreads| instagram


Brittany: Fairy tale retellings are one of my favourite sub-genres. But we normally come across theSnow White, Sleeping Beauty, Disneyfied ones. I love seeing something so different; a
folktale I don't already know of. What drew you to Vassilissa the Beautiful and Baba
Yaga? The creepiness? The magic? Maybe you're a Russian history buff?

Sarah: Hi Brittany, I grew up with Russian fairy tales, so it wouldn’t have occurred to me to retell anything else. VASSA IN THE NIGHT is a kind of tribute to my childhood mythology.
I don’t have any particular emotional connection to Snow White or Cinderella or any of
the Grimms’ stories; they’re beautiful stories, but they didn’t form my imagination
in the way the Russian ones did. I can’t imagine retelling a story that I didn’t have
a deep personal connection with; writing a novel is such a long, immersive process that
you’ve really got to have your heart in it.


Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: September 20th, 2016
Pages: 304
Source: ARC from publisher
Rating: 4/5
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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 out 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… 

Vassa in the Night has one of those synopsis's that absolutely pull you in with its intriguing yet weirdness. It totally caught my attention. I'll stray from my comfort zone every once in awhile when something like Vassa comes along. I mean I really didn't know what to expect going in. Something just really called to me from this book, so here I am.

Although unfamiliar with both Russian fairy tales that Vassa in the Night is based upon, that didn't stop me from wanting to know more. I like the fact that Vassa is something different in the horde of re-tellings oversaturating YA these days. And being unfamiliar with the original work just makes it all the more intriguing for me as I can go in knowing nothing and hopefully come out wanting to know more. Also means I have nothing to compare Vassa too, which let's face it is something that happens less and less these days.

How to sum up Vassa in the Night is close to impossible. It is one bizarre tale about a girl named Vassa and the corner store, BY's, that's pretty much taking over her Brooklyn neighbourhood. It's a store that walks around on chicken legs, with an old lady inside who seems fit to behead anyone who steals. Add in the fact that the nights are getting longer and longer and Vassa and the rest of Brooklyn are in a very lethargic state. Vassa, who is an orphan, lives with her stepsisters and stepmother and a little wooden doll named Erg; who eats more than should possible and gets Vassa into some tight situations with her sisters. One night finds Vassa going to BY's for lightbulbs and sees her being forced to stay there and work for three nights. That situation doesn't seem to have an ending that sees Vassa coming out of the third night alive. Especially when Babs, the owner, is giving Vassa tasks that are literally impossible for a human to complete. But hey, maybe Vassa is more than meets the eye as well.

Okay, seriously this book is a huge mixture of bizarre, intriguing and magical. There is absolutely no way I could describe this book or it's plot to someone. Which is possibly a huge check mark in Vassa's favour as every reader will go in blind not knowing what's coming their way. Did I understand what was happening half the time? No. But I liked it that way. I was seriously on this weird magical journey with Vassa; discovering the night is stuck, Babs is a psychotic old witch and there's a lot more to Erg than just a little wooden doll. 

Vassa is a cool girl. For someone that feels like they don't have a home, she's not outwardly upset about it. Vassa just accepts that she's in a way has a family, well she misses her mom. Erg and her one sister Chelsea don't necessarily see it that way. But it might just take the book for Vassa to get it as well. Vassa finds herself in a disturbing and undesirable situation working at BY's. She fully expects to not live through the three nights on her employment, yet she doesn't let that get her down. Showcasing that being helpful and nice do go a long way. Not to say Vassa doesn't have her own brand of cunning and sass. It's just that being nice means that people/things are wanting to help her. Also, no one likes Babs, so seeing someone take her on(finally) is a blessing. Like I said, Vassa learns a lot about herself and her life in those three nights. She's a very cool girl.

Vassa in the Night is magical realism at it's best. Honestly, with Sarah's poetic writing and strange storytelling, the reader is in for a head-scratching ride. Yea, I was confused at parts, but I also found the book to be utterly compelling. I needed to understand every little facet that was thrown into the story. Is that night on a motorcycle? What is Erg? What is the story behind Babs? The questions are never-ending. I know vagueness is a common theme in the synopsis and my review, but I'm pretty sure that's the point. Vassa in the Night is a magical fairy tale with an interesting set of characters and an even more intriguing plot. 

I want to give a huge thank you to Raincoast for allowing me to participate in this blog tour. And to Sarah for answering my question. 
Vassa in the Night is out now. It's the perfect fall/Halloween read. So just the right time to be picking it up.

Happy reading!


1 comment:

  1. Wow, this one sounds so totally intriguing. I've always had a fascination with Russian history and culture so this sounds right up my alley. I'm only vaguely familiar with the folklore of Baba Yaga but it sounds like a fascinating story whether you know the background or not.