Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
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 is a young adult, fantasy retelling by author Sarah Porter. Porter is also the author of the Lost Voices trilogy which features mermaids. Vassa in the Night is Porter's retelling of a Russian tale called Vasilisa the Beautiful and Baba Yaga. Porter's version takes place in what is an alternative version of Brooklyn where night is becoming longer and longer each day.
In Porter's story, 16-year old Vassa Lisa Lowenstein plays the part of Vasilisa the Beautiful. Vassa lives with her stepmother and 2 older sisters who are about as similar as night and dark is. But, Vassa has a secret which she has never told anyone. Vassa has a beautifully detailed doll she calls Erg which belonged to her mother. Erg is a talking doll who can eat more than her fill, and she also has a tendency of taking things that don't belong to her.
Not unlike Vasilisa the Beautiful, Vassa in this story has issues with her sisters. One of them, Stephanie, sends Vassa off to a strange place called BY's for light bulbs. BY's is a place that is notorious for beheading anyone who steals from the store. With Erg in her pocket, Vassa finds herself meeting her very own version of Baba Yaga. This is a disturbing place folks. Not going to lie. There is a parking lot that has poles with heads on them. Night scenery for someone who has lived a sheltered life.
BY's owner is Babs Yagg, and she has a creepy cast of misfits who keep things more than interesting in their own masochist ways. Caught and put into a precarious situation, Vassa finds herself having to stay within the confines of BY for 3 days. She will have to face tough challenges, and even more craziness in swans who seem to be attached to her. She will also have to work out a way to escape and help others out from under Babs magical enchantment. BY has another interesting twist. The store itself dances on chicken legs!
There are also the strange lawyers in Pangolin and Picnic who add their own bizarre angle to the story. But, the strangest part of the story to me is the motorcyclists who drive around in circles non-stop until Babs tells them to stop. Yes, folks, this story has some interesting hi-jinks. Some bloody good times, and a character in Vassa who is helped along by the only "person" who may actually care about her, or what happens to her in Erg. Have to say that Erg is a whole lot of twisted, but were it not for Erg, this story would have not been as interesting to me. I love the relationship between Vassa and Erg. I even have to give credit for the back story which really is important to the overall enjoyment of the story.