Book Review: Finding Baba Yaga by Jane Yolen

Amazon.com: Finding Baba Yaga (9781250163875): YOLEN, JANE: Books

Title: Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse

Author: Jane Yolen

Genre: YA Fantasy/Book in Verse

Number of Pages: 144

Rating: C

Recommended?: No


 

 

I really liked The Devil’s Arithmetic when I was younger so I thought this book was going to be a lot better than it actually was. I thought the premise of an abused young woman becoming the unlikely assistant of the feared witch of Russian folklore, Baba Yaga, sounded promising. There just wasn’t enough here as far as story or character development to make it worth reading.

 

The poems were competently constructed but sometimes confusing, and the main character Natasha had no personality whatsoever. There’s no reason to care about her or any of the other characters, and you’d think Baba Yaga would at least be dynamic but she really isn’t. Even though Baba Yaga’s other assistant (besides Natasha) is flighty and useless, they both act attached to her and it’s supposed to be a huge loss when she runs off willingly with a douche-y prince.

 

The anachronistic world-building is not done well and everything was so arbitrary that it took me right out of it. The female characters have all obviously been wronged by men and Natasha finds empowerment with Baba Yaga, who automatically kills boys who appear at her home on general principal.

 

Call me na├»ve but I’m sick of books that portray the entire male gender as the antagonist, and I felt like the writing here was similarly lazy, the female characters were defined by their victimhood and the men were predictably terrible. The only thing I really liked about this book was that it inspired me to look into some more books about Baba Yaga that will hopefully hold my interest more.

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