I am so thrilled to be a part of the Vassa in the Night blog tour, hosted by Raincoast Books. I had the opportunity to ask Sarah Porter a question as well as review the book. Before all that, here is some more information on the book:
Title: Vassa in the Night
Author: Sarah Porter
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Summary (from Goodreads): 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 Sarah Porter’s years of experience teaching creative writing to New York City students.
Vassa in the Night really surprised me. This is a magical realism story, but also a retelling of a Russian fairytale. The characters are very likeable (especially the talking doll) and the setting is so vividly described. I really enjoyed this one, even with no knowledge of Vassilissa the Beautiful.
I am a big fan of magical realism novels, which is probably why I enjoyed Vassa in the Night so much. In this book, there is a creepy convenience store that is actually on legs and surrounded by severed heads. Vassa is sent to the convenience store only to be accused of stealing and sentenced to work three nights at the store. There are so many magical aspects that were also pretty creepy in the book, such as two hands that wander around the store. I found all this to be really intriguing, and I loved being introduced to all the characters and the new concepts.
I loved Vassa and Erg’s characters. Vassa is a brave girl who is full of determination and hope as she is stuck working in the creepy convenience store. Vassals best friend is someone who is not quite human, Erg. Erg is a wooden doll who is human-like. She is very good at sneaking around and has a good sense of humour. The fact that she is a doll is very original and I really enjoyed reading about her.
The setting of Vassa in the Night really interested me. At the beginning of the book, the story takes place in Brooklyn, a very fancy setting which I always enjoy. I was so ready for glamour and parties, but the story takes a very dark turn when Vassa arrives at the convenience store. I actually liked this setting even better, since it is so new. There are so many little details about the shop that really make it come to life. The way everything is described is so vivid and, although I wouldn’t want to visit the store anytime soon, I could definitely picture it clearly.
Vassa in the Night is a magical realism story based on a Russian fairytale. I loved the cast of characters and the unique setting. I would recommend this book as it is so different from anything I’ve read before and the perfect book for the fall!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I write stories that seem to me to be quite true enough for all practical purposes. Among them are VASSA IN THE NIGHT, THE LOST VOICES TRILOGY, and the forthcoming WHEN I CAST YOUR SHADOW and TENTACLE AND WING. Realism makes little sense to me and I experience more truth in the fantastic. I always have new novels underway, both Young Adult and Grownup/ Literary/ Speculative. When not writing my own weird stuff, I can often be found leading creative writing workshops with amazing young NYC public-school writers via Teachers & Writers Collaborative. Or I might be drawing, or gardening, or wandering wraithlike through the streets. I live in Brooklyn, land of mystery, with my awesome husband Todd and our two cats, Jub Jub and Delphine.
Q: I stumbled across this statement on your website: “Realism makes little sense to me and I experience more truth in the fantastic.” I was so blown away by this that I really had to stop and think for a few minutes. What fantasy books do you enjoy? Was there one in particular that inspired you to become an author?
A: Hi Olivia! I read far more fantasy, in the larger sense of the term, than realistic
fiction. I have too many favorites to list, but I adore Jeff VanderMeer’s AREA X
trilogy; Catherynne Valente’s RADIANCE; George R. R. Martin, of course; Neal
Stephenson’s THE DIAMOND AGE (It’s about girls saved by books! How could I possibly
resist?) and Hilary Mantel’s BEYOND BLACK, to name a few. I’m reading N. K.
Jemisin’s THE FIFTH SEASON right now, and loving it. But the book that was most
formative for me was Tolkien’s HOBBIT; it made an impact on me, when I was eight, which
would be hard to overstate. It sort of felt as if a secret chamber in the world had just
opened, and I was watching stars spill out of the door. There was no going back after
Thank you, Sarah!
Be sure to check out the rest of the stops on the Vassa in the Night blog tour!