Finding Baba Yaga — Jane Yolen

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TITLE: Finding Baba Yaga
AUTHOR: Jane Yolen
RELEASES: October 30th, 2018; TorDotCom
GENRE: Fantasy
AGE RANGE: YA
PAGE COUNT: 144

SYNOPSIS:
A harsh, controlling father. A quiescent mother. A house that feels like anything but a home. Natasha gathers the strength to leave, and comes upon a little house in the wood: A house that walks about on chicken feet and is inhabited by a fairy tale witch. In finding Baba Yaga, Natasha finds her voice, her power, herself….

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I’ve always loved the story of Baba Yaga, and I never seem to tire of stories told in verse, a storytelling-through-poetry method that works beautifully for whimsical, dark fairytales like this one. Something unique to Finding Baba Yaga, however, is the modern spin Yolen puts on it; while you know that it takes place in modern times, it’s easy to forget when Natasha is in Baba Yaga’s house of magic and mysteries.

This is a tale
both old and new,
borrowed, narrowed,
broadened, deepened.

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The reason I love Baba Yaga so much is her affinity for feisty, angry, curious girls. In a world full of fairytales (especially the old ones) where young women are taught to be quiet, take up little space, and do as they’re told, Baba Yaga plays the role of a bizarre, crude, fun, and sometimes terrifying old crone, here to offer reprieve to the girls who never quite learned how to make themselves small.

Baba Yaga prefers them bright, asking questions,
challenging her, turning their backs.
She likes the ones who stick out their tongues,
laugh at death threats, use foul language, never beg.

Yolen’s a pro at storytelling, as her proficient writing career suggests, but what amazed me was how beautiful her poetry is. While it gets a little muddied at points, I found her writing voice so entertaining and bold and lovely, and were she to write more stories in verse in the future, I would eagerly be first in line to read them.

Content warnings for abuse, anti-Semitism, misogyny (all challenged in text)

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to TorDotCom for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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Just a 26-year-old trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

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