Vassa in the Night is a YA book I received in the September OwlCrate subscription box. Written by Sarah Porter and published on September 20th, 2016, this book is 296 pages of the most cleverly crafted magic realism I have ever read.
Here is the synopsis, taken 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 away 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…
I’m going to rate this book based on the averaged scores I’ve given it in 4 categories.
The plot does not become what one would expect. Whenever I thought I had figured it out, some new piece of information would surface and throw the entire story and cast into turmoil. The novel itself is based off a Russian fairy tale, but expands on it in a modern setting. The overall plot is fascinating and kept me interested throughout.
I adore the YA genre. Most of what I read is YA. However there are times when I feel that the writing can get a bit bland and lifeless, and as a result, I am usually quite picky over what I will pick up. Vassa in the Night is one of the most beautifully crafted novels; I have read across all genres. The visual imagery is powerfully depicted and left me thinking about the scenes for days afterwards.
While she was intriguing, there were times when Vassa got on my nerves as a reader. She was certainly a strong lead character and she was never boring, but she did occasionally fall into the rut of being just a tad annoying. Some of her opinions and the way she acted at certain points in the novel just rubbed me the wrong way.
The other characters more than made up for Vassa’s few short comings though. Erg and the mysterious motorcyclist in particular were, if not outright charming, definitely fascinating.
In order to enjoy a book, I need to be able to connect with it. I need to care about the characters, the outcome, the motives. Reading a novel is like dating. I need to be invested, committed, and interested. Vassa in the Night is one of those books that elicited a powerful emotional response from me. I worried for both the protagonists and the antagonists. I craved the perfect ending. I was completely and absolutely committed to this book and in the end, it paid off.
OVERALL RATING: 4.25/5 stars