September 26, 2016 • Cee • Reviews


Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter •  September 20, 2016 • Tor Teen
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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….

Inspired by the Russian folktale “Vassilissa the Beautiful” and her years of experience teaching creative writing to students in New York City public schools, acclaimed author Sarah Porter weaves a dark yet hopeful tale about a young girl’s search for home, love, and belonging.


I received this book for free from Tor Books for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

First sentence: “When Night looked own, it saw its own eyes staring back at it. “

DNF-ed at page 143 (47%)

Ugh, I never like it when I have to DNF a book. Vassa in the Night had the stuff that had the makings of an awesome book—Russian fairytale retelling, enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, talking wooden dolls, mysterious motorcycler, and witch’s curse—but something about this book never captivated me. I wanted to be enchanted, but I wasn’t.

  • It’s bizarre.

Which can be a good thing. It usually is. I like bizarre books, but Vassa in the Night’s bizarreness didn’t click for me. I guess that’s because I didn’t connect with the characters, and I didn’t feel rooted into this world. The bizarreness ran away from me.

  • I had a hard time following the story. 

Although the writing was good, the story itself was all over the place. Vassa in the Night retells the Russian folklore called Vasilisa the Beautiful. Vassa lives in an enchanted kingdom of present-day Brooklyn, is treated terribly by her stepmother, has a tiny magical wooden doll named Erg, and gets trapped in Babs Yagg’s convenience store when she’s accused of stealing and has to work off her debt. Everything after that set-up made me question what the hell was going on. I didn’t understand, and I couldn’t process what was going on. It was like I was witnessing a dream.

  • It was…dull.

Dull enough that I was dragging my feet. The story seemed like a good idea, but my attention failed to be captured by the bizarreness and the waning plot. Trying to read Vassa in the Night became a chore.

Should you read Vassa in the NightUhhh, go for it? What doesn’t work for me may work for you. Maybe you’ll enjoy the bizarre retelling of the Russian fairytale Vassilia the Beautiful with her little inanimate wooden doll; the old lady, Babs Yagg, that runs the creepy convenience story; and the nightwatchman on the motorcycle.


3 Responses to “(ARC) REVIEW • No Thanks, Babs Yagg (Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter)”

  1. Morgane says:

    Sometimes some books aren’t made for us. ? I must love to suffer because even when I don’t like a book, I go until the very last page! Nevertheless, I’m still intrigued by this book because of the retelling of a foreign tale.

  2. Tasya says:

    Ahh I’m sorry this one doesn’t work for you! I’m honestly excited for this one, and since I enjoyed the original tale (even though it’s REALLY bizzare) I think I would still enjoy this. I hope your next read would be better!

  3. I completely agree with everything you said! Although if I could add a couple more, that’ll be no world building and rushed ending. It was so so so bizarre and that’s not in a good way. Most of the time, I was confused and didn’t know what’s going on with the story. But I do agree, this is such a cool idea if only it was executed better.

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