Vassa in the Night Review

Another Fairy tale! I didn’t realize this until I figured out that BY stood for Baba Yaga. Fairy tale retellings are usually fun in seeing how the author incorporated the original tale and Vassa in the Night was…an interesting interpretation of Vasilia the Beautiful.

I went to read a summary of the original tale after I finished, so as to not risk any spoilers, but found that the end was different. Sort of. The ending of Vassa was a bit too open for my taste; I still had questions. I did not see how Vassa and Stephenie’s relationship would be healed by these events, although Vassa herself seems somewhat optimistic. In the original tale, Vasilia is given a magic lantern by Baba Yaga  and when she gets home, she finds that the lights have not returned and the lantern burns her half-sisters and mother to death. This is obviously a convenient way to get rid of evil step-siblings. On the other hand, attempting to repair the relationship between siblings without fiery deaths seems to fit a more modern version of the tale.

Parts of the story seemed somewhat convoluted or weighed down with extra detail. While I can go along with this at the beginning of a book, with the expectation of later explanation, I was not always satisfied in this case. For example, I was slightly confused with the interlude of the father becoming a dog, as it did not really seem to add much to the plot. It answered the question of where the father went, for sure, however that did not seem like an urgent question to me in the first place.

Recalling my review of East, and agreeing with my friends here, I was exasperated by the refusal to answer questions. It’s another traditional fairy tale element, I recognized that. But again, what’s a girl to do, sometimes? Discouraging questions, and then making her feel bad for asking them was exasperating to read about.

And to agree with Dancing Radish, I thought Vassa was written with a pretty realistic personality. Her impulsive choice to go to BY’s to prove a silly point to her sister was believable; I could see myself doing such a thing. Her inner struggles and her self-doubt did not feel contrived. We tend not to hear the inner thoughts of the traditional fairy tale heroines, they are silenced by the 3rd person narrative; and it is sometimes hard to imagine that they might be angry,  feeling lost and dispairing.

 

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