Blog Tour: ‘Vassa In The Night’ by Sarah Porter Review & Excerpt

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I received this book for free from Rain Coast Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Vassa In The Night by Sarah Porter

Review

Title: Vassa in The Night

Author: Sarah Porter

Song: Romeo & Juliet: Act 1, Scene XIII, Dance of the Knights by: LSO  

Published: September 20th, 2016       # of Pages: 304

Date Started: September 19th, 2016   Date Ended: September 20th, 2016

Category: Fiction, Fantasy, Retelling

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Description:

“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.”

Review:

The plot for this book was very unique. I especially liked the idea of a Russian Folklore retelling. {I am a huge history nerd guys, bare with me} The opening was informative, giving us a background story as too what the main theme was about. It helped us understand our female lead a lot better along with the world around her. With the help of a little troublemaker *cough cough* Erg *cough cough* our female lead was basically, shoved into a “slightly” dangerous situation. Aka going into BYs. This was our rising action in the story. And let me tell you, it just kept getting better and better with each page. Once we got into more depth with the story that’s when we finally hit the climax. It was absolutely FANTASTIC. Thrilling, earth shattering, and a little body chopping, but we got there. And I couldn’t put it down. The story’s intensity kept increasing all the way through the falling action. Magic Swans with a little vengeance never hurt nobody. Except maybe one character… You’ll have to read it to find out who I’m talking about. But when we got to that Conclusion. Oh My GOSH. My mind literally blew up like the night sky. {No pun intended. *wink*} It was so enthralling and gripping, I especially liked the way the author brought an old/new memory into play at the end. It was absolutely breathtaking. But I will admit, some parts were kind of confusing. More so along the lines of, why are you even in here. But besides those couple of confusing chapters the story itself was very interesting and unique. I highly enjoyed the magic and secrets within it.

The characters were very interesting. All of their developments were written absolutely magical. Although certain characters could have been used or seen more in the story, I still loved them all none the less. First we had our female leads. Vassa, the girl who knows she’s different but likes to be seen as normal. Vassa is a unique, strong, brave and courageous girl who won’t let anything get in the way of the people or things she cares about. But she has a secret, something big, well in this case, something small. That something small would be the famous, mischievous Erg. Now in Ergs case she may be small, but she is a feisty small wooden doll. She is mischievous, cunning, badass, and a bit of a rule breaker. Okay, a bit is an understatement, she is a rule breaker and thief. But the reason why she does what she does is because she also has a secret. A secret she can’t tell anyone not even her best friend/family Vassa. Besides those two mains we also had our bad guy in the story, in a way this character is a metaphor for badness and evil. And that character is Babs. The owner and store clerk, along with the vile woman who decided to keep Vassa in the store for three days. She was very cunning and just had an unkind aura around her that made her the perfect villain. She also made the fraise “Cat got your tongue” a reality {must read the book to know what I mean}. After them we have our wonderful supporting characters, which might I add had just as much importance as the mains did. First we had Chelsea and Stephanie, Vassa’s half sisters who dared and cared for her (some more than the other). Zinaida, who was Vassa’s biological birth mother. Tomin, now he’s a special duck. He is the boy who loves well, actually just “likes” Vassa as a friend. I secretly think there is more to him than meets the eye but that’s just me. The Motorcyclist, he is a very mysterious character, one that we don’t know much about. Yet he is dark and dreamy along with mysterious. I honestly love him so much. Picnic & Pangolin were the lawyers in the book who were very unique, curious characters I’d say. And finally we had Sinister & Dexter (Dex). These two were the helping “hands” at BYs. Babs workers and Vassa’s co-workers. I VERY much loved these two, they honestly made the book a whole much better. Along with Erg. I honestly loved all of these characters so much, they made the book basically a 1000x more fun. I couldn’t put it down.

Overall,

This book was very mystical and magical. Sure some parts were confusing, but it loved the rest of it very much. I loved the idea of bringing folklore into a modern day style of writing. “Vassilissa the Beautiful” is old Russian Folklore, and very unique itself. It was whimsical and about the truths and secrets of family, I couldn’t put it down. Not once.

Congratulations Sarah Porter on a wonderful story! I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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Vassa In The Night {featuring Erg and Dexter}

Excerpt

“We can’t prove it. By the clock everything’s fine. The sun goes down around seven p.m. these days, right on schedule for your standard New York April, and comes up at six the next morning. The effect was so sneaky at first that it was months before anybody worked up the nerve to say anything. Then, maybe around November, I started hearing discreet wisecracks, muttered like they were something embarrassing, like, “Hey, Vassa! Long time no see!” when I walked into school in the morning. But winter was coming on then, anyway, so you could tell yourself that, hey, the nights are supposed to feel long now.
By January, though, it was getting harder to ignore. It gets to the point, when your whole family is waking up around two a.m., and eating cereal, and shuffling around, and watching a lot of old movies, and then it’s still only three thirty so you all go back to bed, where you might kind of mention that it seems a little unusual. And when it gets to be February, then March, and the nights are officially getting shorter but everyone can feel how they drag on and on, the hours like legless horses struggling to make it to the end of the darkness, then you might even start to complain. You might say that the nights feel like they’re swallowing your drab nowhere neighborhood and refusing to cough it back up again the way they ought to. And the more the nights gobble up, the bigger and fatter and stronger they get, and the more they need to eat, until nobody can fight their way through to the next dawn.
I’m exaggerating. Morning does always come around eventually. At least, it does for now.
See, to whatever degree we have magic around here, it’s strictly the kind that’s a pain in the ass.”

Quotes

It’s only logical: BY’s can’t kill everyone who shops there. If they did, they’d go out of business. (page 45)

Sleep is larger than any night. It’s large enough to fill the mind. It’s deeper than any night. So even the night can be lost inside it. (page 75)

I wish that all of us together in this night could stop hurting. I wish we’d finally cease to bleed. (page 109)

Who will you find if you open the stars? (page 211)

I think she made you- so she wouldn’t have to leave me completely alone. (page 280)

Being human is a hard lesson to learn and you really have to start young, and practice constantly, if you’re going to stand a chance of getting good at it. (page 284)

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