Publisher: Usborne Publishing
Release Date: May 3rd 2018
Summary (from Goodreads):
All 12-year-old Marinka wants is a friend. A real friend. Not like her house with chicken legs. Sure, the house can play games like tag and hide-and-seek, but Marinka longs for a human companion. Someone she can talk to and share secrets with.
But that’s tough when your grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It’s even harder when you live in a house that wanders all over the world . . . carrying you with it. Even worse, Marinka is being trained to be a Yaga. That means no school, no parties–and no playmates that stick around for more than a day.
So when Marinka stumbles across the chance to make a real friend, she breaks all the rules . . . with devastating consequences. Her beloved grandmother mysteriously disappears, and it’s up to Marinka to find her–even if it means making a dangerous journey to the afterlife.
I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book from the author, so big thanks to you, Sophie 🙂 I’ve been excited about this coming out since she told me about it and I am so delighted with the finished book.
Marinka has spent her whole life living with her grandmother, Baba Yaga, in their house with chicken legs, moving from place to place, guiding the dead and never making friends with the living. Marinka doesn’t want to learn to guide the dead, so when she has the chance to make a real, living friend she risks everything for a life she can’t have.
This book is just brimming with magic and wonder on every page and I couldn’t read it fast enough. I’ve heard a few stories about Baba Yaga and I loved how this story wove originality with the traditional stories to create something really special.
Marinka is a great protagonist: she’s headstrong and a little selfish at times, but also thoughtful and brave and her loneliness will resonate with every young person (and old like me too!) You can really feel her yearning for true companionship and a ‘normal’ life and I understood it, even if sometimes I wanted to tell her how lucky she was to have Baba and the house!
The other characters in the book are just as wonderful. I loved Baba Yaga: her warmth and welcoming of the dead and her relationship with the house was just adorable. And the house! It’s a character in its own right, not just a house that can walk but one with a playful and caring personality. Sometimes it was hard to imagine not loving that house, and it was great to see Marinka’s relationship with it grow and change over the book.
The story is beautifully told through poetic prose and Marinka’s first-person narration lets you feel all her emotions as her world is turned upside down. I truly felt for her as the only life she knew began to unravel. The story took some twists I didn’t expect and it all came together in the most perfect ending.
The book itself is gorgeous too: the cover is stunning and sure to catch anyone’s eye on the shelf, but in addition to this there are lovely little black and white illustrations throughout the book. It’s just another little thing that lets you know how truly special this book is.
This is a remarkable book with a magical, vivid cast of characters and a heartwarming message about family, destiny and acceptance. This is one that I can’t wait to share with Little Moore when he’s older and I know I’ll enjoy re-reading it again and again. A must read for 2018 – do yourself and the young person in your life a favour and buy this book!