Jane Yolen’s Finding Baba Yaga is one of the shorter books Catherine and I picked up at the 2018 World Fantasy Convention.
Here’s what the back of the book says…
You think you know this story. You do not.
A harsh, controlling father. A quiescent mother. A house that feels like anything but a home. Natasha gathers the strength to leave, and comes upon a little house in the wood: a house that walks about on chicken feet and is inhabited by a fairy-tale witch. In finding Baba Yaga, Natasha finds her voice, her power, and herself…
A contemporary retelling of an iconic myth by a beloved and prolific American storyteller.
To be honest, I never thought I knew this particular story. I only know bits and pieces of it. I first heard of Baba Yaga in Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition by way of the 1970 adaptation by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.
Apparently Yolen drew inspiration from a collection of advice columns called “Ask Baba Yaga” by Taisia Kitaiskaia.
Finding Baba Yaga is billed as a short novel in verse. Reading the table of contents suggests that it is also a cycle of poems, each capable of standing on its own. The first poem, “You Think You Know This Story,” sets the tone.
I’m not used to reading poetry, and I’m not sure what to say about what I’ve been reading. I’m not sure how I feel about it. All I know is that it probably wasn’t written for me, even though I can appreciate the artistry Yolen weaves into her story.