Roadtrip on chicken legs into the past…

by GennaRose Nethercott 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Here is the rare event of the cover drawing me to a book. Over the years I have met Baba Yaga in various mutations. Probably first through Kate Daniels or another UF series and lastly through the Witcher. The chicken-legged hut sealed the deal. A roadtrip in a walking hut? Sounds bonkers. I had fun looking at various images of chicken-legged huts online…

It started more sweet than horrible, until the bad guy showed up for the first time. Creepy. 

“In the tradition of modern fairytales like American Gods and Spinning Silver comes a sweeping epic rich in Eastern European folklore–a debut novel about the ancestral hauntings that stalk us, and the uncanny power of story.“

Anybody interested in Eastern European folklore has probably come across Baba Yaga and her chicken-legged hut before. So colour me intrigued, when I read about the Yaga siblings, their inheritance of a house with chicken legs and a road trip. I had to go along.

The siblings come across as amicable characters, when they are introduced—a wood-working sister and her trickster-like brother. The Longshadow Man though is frightening right off the bat.

Sometimes the plot moved along nicely, sometimes dragged a bit, getting caught up in descriptive prose and inner musings. A bit more plot progression would have been my preference, although the lyrical bits had something, too.

I expected something tenser, with a stronger horror element. After the Longshadow Man showed up for the first time, I thought there would be a growing sense of dread and urgency and of being chased. But the pace remained mostly pretty sedate, with the odd more active interlude. The mystery unravelled slowly, with frequent glimpses into the past of the main characters.

Unusual, different. Not as much horror as I thought. This is not a re-telling of a haunted fairytale. It‘s more a re-telling of horrible, past events. Or a remembering. Some events need to be retold, to battle all those people out there prone to repeat history. Let‘s call it magical realism with a strong dose of folklore and a dash of history.

The defining moment of Baba Yaga is one that has been told many times over for horrific events in history, where the many take it upon themselves to murder and exterminate the few. But I guess these stories need to be told again and again, when I look at the news and experience how stupid people still are, despite everything.

Bottomline, I liked this story. I struggled a bit with the pacing. The active parts were great and well written. The lyrical parts were just that, but they dragged and sometimes they dragged so much that I put the book down and didn‘t touch it for a day. I liked Bellatine and Isaac. What a twat he was. Thistlefoot came alive beautifully. I laughed at it‘s different origin stories. Baba Yaga‘s story was mostly dreadful and the ending is a bittersweet one. Please don‘t think that this novel is only about the past, Bellatine and Isaac live in the now and so do their friends. It‘s a very magical now though.

I would pick up something else by the author, if I liked the blurb.

Author‘s website:

And her Traveling Poetry Emporium — What a fun idea! I enjoyed reading about it and wish that I lived on a different continent, so I could visit.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher or author through NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review.