by Sarah Porter
File Size: 1852 KB
Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen (September 20, 2016)
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Sold by: Macmillan
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Vassa in the Night is an enchanting, modern retelling of the Russian folktale “Vassilissa the Beautiful” for young adults by the critically-acclaimed author, Sarah Porter. Leigh Bardugo, New York Times bestselling author of the Grisha Trilogy, calls it, "A dark, thoroughly modern fairy tale crackling with wit and magical mayhem."Dolls with bottomless stomachs, men on motorcycles who have the night trapped inside their eyes, and mothers who didn’t tell you everything. The nights are getting longer in Brooklyn, and Vassa may be the only one who can change this. She has to even it all back out again. When her horrid stepsister number 2 sends her on a quest for light bulbs at the store where people get beheaded, she finds herself in a sticky situation. What follows is a re-telling of the Russian fairy tale Vasilisa the Beautiful.
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….
Inspired by the Russian folktale “Vassilissa the Beautiful” and her years of experience teaching creative writing to students in New York City public schools, acclaimed author Sarah Porter weaves a dark yet hopeful tale about a young girl’s search for home, love, and belonging.
Unfortunately, I found the book severely lacking any sort of luster. I liked Erg (the doll) some of the time, but the characters themselves other than her were very undeveloped. And when a character is lacking development, there is a pretty good chance that their relationships are lacking that relationship as well.
Long story short, it really was. I felt that one relationship was developed wonderfully, but this did not make up for the rest of them. I didn’t understand what Vassa was fighting for, or why she was fighting. I mean, of course, I knew she was trying to get the sun to come back up again. I didn’t know what made her think it was her job though. There was a gap in her train of thought that I just didn’t know what to do with. I felt like it was one moment this- one moment that.
The book’s main issue was that it just wasn’t super fluid, and the characters just weren’t fleshed out enough for me to be able to connect with them.
Something potentially dangerous is about to happen? Go for it.
The love of your life appears? Eh- you do you, I have no emotional connection to the outcome.
Something that is supposedly super impactful happens in Vassa’s life? Nice. (that nice is said with no emotional inflection)
It wasn’t that the book was bad. It wasn’t. It even had the potential to be interesting. But the fact that I just plain did not care what happened in the character’s lives. The book itself—I mean, it was fine. Just fine is not good or great. It was a robotic read. Not one that I would want to endure again.