Synopsis: 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…
Review: Vassa in the Night is a retelling of a Russian tale and I admit that being rather foreign to this type of folklore, I was very curious to immerse myself in the story. Of course, I did not know about the original story, so I’m not able to do comparison but it was still very intriguing.
We discover Vassa, a young girl who lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters Stephanie and Chelsea. Indeed, her mother died and her father disappeared years ago. It is already a quite complicated situation when her only ally left is Chelsea and her nutcracker, Erg. Yet Erg brings as much support as problems … Indeed, this wooden doll is attracted to petty theft she can do by stealing the two sisters and hiding things to accuse Vassa, which doesn’t help the relationship with them. But Erg also has a limitless appetite forcing our young heroine to keep aside enough food to feed her. But now, the situation is increasingly tense with Stephanie and although Vassa tries to reason with her doll nothing change … And when one evening, her sister asks her at night to pick bulbs to replace the house lights, Vassa feels that the limit has been reached. Indeed, the neighborhood store, the only one open at that hour is well known to contain magic, and especially an owner who does not hesitate to decapitate customers who disturb her … But Vassa could not expect such a turn of events when Babs threats her by forcing her to stay and work for her for several days. Thus our dear heroine finds herself launched in a world she does not know about and yet touching her more than she thought and that will help her understand more about herself and about Erg.
It was a completely disorienting and unique story and it’s true that I was not expecting that but it did not prevent me to want to discover the upcoming events. It is impossible to predict what will happen and it’s even sometimes a bit complicated to understand everything but it’s definitely different. We discover some quirky characters and learn to discover them slowly while learning more about Vassa and her past. I confess that I did not expect at all for this purpose elsewhere but eventually it also allows us to better understand the events.
Yes, the author presents us something very different and strange that we discover with surprise.