This month’s choice was Vassa in the Night and although I haven’t written my review for December yet, I thought I should do this one as I just finished it.
Overall I enjoyed the premise of this book. I liked the small elements that referred to the Baba Yaga story and how unreliable a narrator Vassa was. The usual ideas behind fairies/fair folk being unable to talk about certain things was present, though what they weren’t able to say at times seemed a bit arbitrary. As soon as Vassa “knew” the answer, some spiritual realization perhaps, they could suddenly speak about things though moments before they weren’t. I mean yeah, it could be they want her to figure things out on her own, but in terms of incompetent adults… I feel like this was one of them, leaving a teenager to fix/save everyone while keeping secrets from her was just annoying at times.
Erg, who is an important character, I didn’t quite understand her fay-link that somehow disappears and doesn’t transfer into Vassa. There were many unresolved questions I had at the end, which was fine, but the book felt like it was answering questions I already knew the answer to while throwing curve balls around that were either useless in terms of the whole narrative or were just important for that chapter but weren’t mentioned anywhere else.
For example; the shadow and sunshine soda that is instrumental at the end, like… it was never mentioned before. Never foreshadowed, nothing. It was a deus-ex-machina to a problem that also seemed kind of contrived? Tomin just shows up to speak to her every night, and he’s suddenly important for what? He doesn’t move the plot along in any way. In addition, she saves him but what about the swans? They were more important and the truth behind them is heartbreaking, but who knows what happens to them!
Maybe I should re-read the book, but at times the action scenes were very confusing and I frequently lost sense of what was happening. The whole store that moves was also disorienting to the flow of the story in terms of directions and situating the action and understanding the space Vassa was working in. I still have no idea how big this store is, apparently large enough for a flock of swans to invade but the shelves are short enough they can fly across quickly…
Again, I did enjoy the book. It wasn’t as good as East and it had a ton of unresolved issues that were put in for no reason. Maybe there will be a sequel? But the characters were well written, it was interesting and it had an interesting conclusion for Baba Yaga. Still some parts of it were unsatisfying so beware…