Baba Yaga’s Assistant


by Marika McCoola
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

I’m not overly familiar with Baba Yaga stories in particular, though by virtue of being a children’s librarian I am now familiar with the concept. It seems there are people who grew up with these stories the way I grew up with Grimm fairy tales, and this book is probably a lot more fun for them than for me as it involves a teenage girl who is part witch herself meeting the famous Baba Yaga of the stories and becoming her apprentice. McCoola does a good job of explaining how Masha’s knowledge of the stories helps her solve the witch’s puzzles, and Masha’s own backstory adds interesting depth to it. Masha’s mother has died and her father suddenly announces that he’s going to marry the woman he’s been seeing, so already there is a stepmother/stepsister element present in so many fairy tales. When Masha learns that her father has been spending time with his new fiancee and her daughter instead of with her, her sense of betrayal is palpable and wrenching. She understandably runs away to be with the witch instead, only to find that the bratty stepsister is destined to become Baba Yaga’s dinner. The book ends with Masha and Baba Yaga reunited and setting off on more adventures, so maybe there will be more? I would read another, but I’m not dying to.

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