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…
Read the synopsis before reading my review so you have an idea of what I’ll be talking about 🙂
This book is BIZARRE, but not in a good way. It’s the kind of book that is so weird and clearly not for everyone. But that’s not why I’m giving it 1 star. I wouldn’t mind weirdness or magical realism, I enjoy them, in fact. It is because the book was just plainly disappointing to me.
Vassa in the Night was one of my most awaited release this year. I mean, a retelling of Russian fairy tale?? YES PLEASE. And look at the cover! So gorgeous… I was prepared for some beautiful, magical story but no, that’s not what this is. It started out pretty okay, I enjoyed the beginning and I was intrigued to find out what would happen next. But soon I realized that there was basically no world building! I didn’t know what kind of world Vassa lived in, like what is common and what not? I reread the first chapter twice to see if I missed something. I did not.
We were told that Vassa lived in Brooklyn where people arrived but never left (ok what does that even mean???) and the night has stretched a lot longer than usual without people knowing why. There’s also this weird store called BY where people are beheaded for stealing. Aaaand that’s pretty much it. I didn’t have any idea what kind of magic worked there and how much strangeness is normal there? Is it really possible that people keep shopping at the sight of chopped head? What kind of world is it?! I’m sorry but I just didn’t get that.
The plot, unfortunately, was just as vague. It wasn’t clear what Vassa had to do and WHY?? If you have a special snowflake, a heroine sent out there to fix everything, then you had to have a good reason! There was (sadly) none of it. The reason why Vassa was ‘chosen’ to do the job instead of every other person in the world didn’t make any sense. Vassa’s way of knowing things was also super weird. Like, she didn’t have any idea what to do to fix something so she went to sleep and suddenly she figured out what needed to be done. What the hell is that?!!
The back story didn’t make sense either. I must admit I felt quite confused (again). What’s with Vassa’s mother true identity and her father wanting to become a dog to please his dead father? The presence of Bea didn’t make any difference, other than for the sake of having a back story. And don’t even get me started on the romance. Ugh, just NO.
The writing was good, but the conversations are… strange, especially when it involved Picnic and Pangolin. Half of the time, I was like “what are they even talking about?!”. I was bored and I was honestly just waiting for it to be over. But another thing that disappoint me was the ending. IT WAS ABSURD! More absurd than everything else I’ve encountered before. It felt rushed and simplified. I was just glad to finally finish it.
Writing down this review only made me realize how much I actually disliked this book. I was planning to give it 2 stars, but no. The only good thing about it is that it has such a cool idea that I’m sure will be one of the coolest, most unique book if executed well.
Have you read Vassa in the Night? What do you think about it? Let’s talk! 😀
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