Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse

Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse

A young woman discovers the power to speak up and take control of her fate—a theme that has never been more timely than it is now… You think you know this story. You do not. 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 abou...

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Title:Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse
Author:Jane Yolen
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse Reviews

  • Fran

    "Stories retold are stories remade...This is a tale both old and new, borrowed, narrowed, broadened, deepened". In Russian folklore, Baba Yaga is a terrifying old witch who can be cruel and fearsome or perhaps powerful and kind. She lives in a nondescript hut deep in the forest. The hut moves around on chicken feet. When Baba Yaga calls to her house, it will rotate counterclockwise until the front door faces her. Baba's method of transportation is a human size mortar she steers with a pestle as

    "Stories retold are stories remade...This is a tale both old and new, borrowed, narrowed, broadened, deepened". In Russian folklore, Baba Yaga is a terrifying old witch who can be cruel and fearsome or perhaps powerful and kind. She lives in a nondescript hut deep in the forest. The hut moves around on chicken feet. When Baba Yaga calls to her house, it will rotate counterclockwise until the front door faces her. Baba's method of transportation is a human size mortar she steers with a pestle as a rudder. She has a voracious appetite and enjoys eating children, especially little boys. She has a mouth full of iron teeth, the better to gobble up her human dinner!

    Teenager Natasha leads a miserable life with her parents. If she uses a bad word, her papa calls her "filth" and puts soap in her mouth to "cleanse" her. She is often locked in her room, held captive until her mama locates the key and unlocks the door. There is no peace in the house. Natasha runs away. After days of hunger, with the hard ground as her bed, she follows a path into the woods, passing by "ghostly" trees. She spots a little hut, Baba Yaga's hut. Natasha is a feisty, friendly girl. Baba Yaga's reaction: "You'll do girl, you'll do". What is in store for this 21st Century runaway? Settling in with Baba Yaga, Natasha is surprised to find she will be sharing her room with a new arrival.

    Vasilisa, a petite, pretty blond arrives carrying three special secret possessions. Natasha and Vasilisa bond. Vasilisa is Natasha's first friend. She is thrilled, but only for a while. Vasilisa plans to marry a prince and therefore must escape from Baba's house. Vasilisa has an ace up her sleeve. If pursued, she will unleash some magic!

    "Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse" by Jane Yolen will arguably capture the imagination of readers everywhere although it is marketed to Teens/YA. The protagonists Baba Yaga, Natasha, and Vasilisa are lovingly crafted by Yolen. The verse is clear and concise and the story magnificently told. The mixture of 21st Century issues with Slavic folklore create a delightful read!

    Thank you Macmillan-Tor/Forge and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "Finding Baba Yaga".

  • destiny ♎ [howling libraries]

    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

    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.

    The reason

    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

    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.

    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.

    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.

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

  • Evelina | AvalinahsBooks

    Wow! I've never read books in verse, and I normally don't even like poetry, but this one definitely packs a punch! I loved it.

    The feminist themes of a girl without her place, mixed with hints of mythology and the general woman-witch archetype was amazing. This is a fast read, and you don't know quite what to make of it, but you know the feeling is good.

    Finding Baba Yaga hints at many things - abusive or restricting, over-religious parents, lack of freedom to choose even your own thoughts or word

    Wow! I've never read books in verse, and I normally don't even like poetry, but this one definitely packs a punch! I loved it.

    The feminist themes of a girl without her place, mixed with hints of mythology and the general woman-witch archetype was amazing. This is a fast read, and you don't know quite what to make of it, but you know the feeling is good.

    Finding Baba Yaga hints at many things - abusive or restricting, over-religious parents, lack of freedom to choose even your own thoughts or words, leaving home and finding a new life for yourself, loss, jealousy, disappointment, love. Finding an odd companion, becoming a family to someone who is nothing and nobody to you. And eventually finding your roots somewhere you would have never dreamed of finding them.

    The poems are strong, they talk about the importance of words and stories. But they're not pretentious or hard to understand at all - it's pretty straightforward, and yet, it still has these little plays on words that you can choose to interpret the way you like. I liked both the symbolism and the simplicity of this book, and I'm sure I'll be reading it again.

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  • Charles Lint

    Jane Yolen’s Finding Baba Yaga opens with:

    You think you know this story.

    You do not.

    We start with a broken home and a troubled teenage girl who manages to escape it. She ends up living with the ancient witch Baba Yaga (who now appears to live in North America) and it’s there she learns the witch’s magics while taking care of her curious house with its chicken legs and uneven floors. But more importantly, this is where she learns to trust in herself, in the power of her own voice and the simple tr

    Jane Yolen’s Finding Baba Yaga opens with:

    You think you know this story.

    You do not.

    We start with a broken home and a troubled teenage girl who manages to escape it. She ends up living with the ancient witch Baba Yaga (who now appears to live in North America) and it’s there she learns the witch’s magics while taking care of her curious house with its chicken legs and uneven floors. But more importantly, this is where she learns to trust in herself, in the power of her own voice and the simple truth that she controls her own fate.

    Finding Baba Yaga is both a contemporary story and a fairy tale and it’s told entirely in verse.

    I know. Some of you are wrinkling your brows.

    If you don’t like poetry, or think that you don’t, not to worry. Yolen’s work can always be read on many levels beginning with the comfortable cadence of the words as they appear on the page. It’s a straightforward—albeit lyrical—story which should be as easy to relate to as a prose story. Although admittedly this is a concise one. While it fulfills all the requirements of a novel in terms of the sweep of its story you can still read it in a couple of hours.

    You can also delve deeper, savoring the richness of the language, the simplicity when it’s needed and the parts where the lines sing. Lines such as:

    I step onto the path,

    knowing it is but the beginning,

    one foot, then the other,

    till I gleam silver all over,

    in the moonlight.

    Or:

    When I wake, the bed is small, her side cold.

    She’s gone on that long road into adulthood

    from which none of us returns.

    Poetry is just words on the paper, arranged a little differently from prose, with a little more intent packed into each word. Poetry can be obscure and confusing but the verses in Finding Baba Yaga are neither.

    I’m willing to bet that if you give it a chance you’ll soon be so swallowed by the story and the beauty of its telling that you’ll forget you’re reading poetry.

    This is a Worm Ouroboros of a story, the old made new, the new made old, metaphors rubbing shoulders with painful truths. Far from being a gimmick it’s rather the only way the story could be told to deliver the impact that it does. Jane Yolen is a National Treasure and you don't need to go any further than the pages of Finding Baba Yaga to understand why.

    Highly recommended.

  • TheYALibrarian

    I can really see why Jane Yolen is so beloved by many she is knows really how to weave verses with beautiful words that tell a story.

    I'm personally not very familiar with the tale of Baba Yaga. I only know the basic details of Yaga herself but as for Vasilisa not really. I don't know why she came to live at Baba Yaga's like Natasha and why she would run away with a stuck up prince. It is revealed at the end th

    I can really see why Jane Yolen is so beloved by many she is knows really how to weave verses with beautiful words that tell a story.

    I'm personally not very familiar with the tale of Baba Yaga. I only know the basic details of Yaga herself but as for Vasilisa not really. I don't know why she came to live at Baba Yaga's like Natasha and why she would run away with a stuck up prince. It is revealed at the end that she is somehow Yaga's daughter which I thought was interesting but there is still so many gaps left unfilled.

    But other than that I got lost in the words they were so beautiful and I liked Natasha as a character. She seemed smart and sensible and cared for Vasilisa. When she ran away it seemed to devastate her as much as it did Yaga. But I'm glad she stayed with Yaga and learned to do magic like her.That she would carry on the legacy of witchcraft born from this old woman. I wish there was honestly more in this book I really want more backstory and more on what became of Vasilisa but other than that I loved it.

  • Marquise

    Quite an original way of retelling the Baba Yaga tale in verse, mixing the old Russian folktale with a modern world setting and giving Baba Yaga a protégée that's an escapee girl, Natasha, who flees an abusive father and somehow ends up in the witch's forest cottage.

    At first, I was a bit confused not just because of the obscure opening verses but also because Yolen chose the "gradual reveal" peeling-the-onion style of storytelling, and it's only the further you read that the plot becomes cleare

    Quite an original way of retelling the Baba Yaga tale in verse, mixing the old Russian folktale with a modern world setting and giving Baba Yaga a protégée that's an escapee girl, Natasha, who flees an abusive father and somehow ends up in the witch's forest cottage.

    At first, I was a bit confused not just because of the obscure opening verses but also because Yolen chose the "gradual reveal" peeling-the-onion style of storytelling, and it's only the further you read that the plot becomes clearer, and you become engrossed. I ended up liking this strange story precisely because of the mishmash of old tale & modern life ingredients, and the unusual verse rendition.

  • Erin

    Things I loved:

    The cover

    Yolen's take on the Baba Yaga

    The Verse - skillfully done, the verse unfolds the story of a nameless girl, fleeing a bad home and finding one with Baba Yaga.

    Dislikes

    I don't really have a lot of them. But perhaps it was a bit difficult to feel emotional connection to the storyline.

  • Lily ☁️

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  • Sarah

    The story of Baba Yaga - written in verse. Colour me curious!

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