tamorapierce: yellow sign showing figure banging head on desk (Default)
Lately I've had read some very agreeable books, and I just had to share. Two tonight, two more later in the week.

Deborah Blake
Don't get me wrong; I've been a fan of Deborah's for years, but of her nonfiction witch's guides, published by Llewellyn Books (my favorites being EVERYDAY WITCHCRAFT and WITCHCRAFT ON A SHOESTRING--you can see why they appeal!). I only discovered her fiction this year when she mentioned it on Facebook, and I thought I'd give it a try, once I got over my aversion to the whole Baba Yaga thing.

Yes, she draws on the old Russian story cycle of Baba Yaga. She began as a goddess, according to Deborah, but when I encountered her in my endless quest for new myths and legends in grade school, she was the terrible old witch who lived in a house on chicken legs that walked through the forest. (It was the idea of that house that gave me the horrors the worst. I can't explain it.) She flew in a giant mortar and steered it with her pestle. (I keep a sharp eye on mine, just in case.) She had iron teeth and ate children. (That didn't bother me nearly so much as the walking house on chicken legs.)

Deborah's Baba Yaga has evolved with the times. For one thing, there are many of them. The United States has three. I've read about two.

Barbara Yager of WICKEDLY DANGEROUS travels the country with an enchanted Airstream trailer, doing good works for those who still remember enough of the old country to call upon the Baba for help. She has a giant white pit bull named Chudo-Yudo, who is a disguised-for-our-mortal-world dragon. And when she's called upon to rescue a vanished child, she meets a hot sheriff and sparks are struck. Something is going very wrong in his town, and although he doesn't believe it, she's just the one to help. She doesn't believe he can possibly be useful, but she can also be wrong. It's great. The romance doesn't overwhelm the action; the horror is genuinely creepy, and the fantasy is great. Any book with a pit bull, a dragon, an Airstream, and boss motorcycles is fine by me! (And I didn't even mention the Three Riders!)


In WICKEDLY WONDERFUL, we find Becka Yancy, a seaside diving and surfing Baba Yaga, who is still kinda green. The previous Baba, over 200 years old, was forcibly retired to the Underworld, after planting in her student the firm belief that she still wasn't quite good enough. (This Baba Yaga lives in a classic hippie-painted school bus, by the way, and her Chudo-Yudo is a huge black Newfoundland.) While she's surfing Becka has occasion to rescue a mermaid's child trapped in fishing net, only to incur the wrath of one of the fishermen, a war-toughened, 12-year veteran Marine. He thinks she's dippy; she thinks he's a pain. Still, she needs him--and his dad's fishing boat--when the mermaid's king and queen call upon her to find out why all of the plant and animal life in their very deep trench of the ocean has died off (which also has killed off the local fishing industry). Somehow they're going to have to work together--ideally, without him finding out what she really is. Or is that so ideal?

This is a bit more fantastical, as Becka must deal with the monarch of the Underworld, where so many of the magical people have fled to avoid, well, us. The Three Riders make a return appearance. Becka is very different from Barbara, younger and more unsure of herself, still trying to decide if she's going to remain a Baba Yaga. Blake keeps us wondering right up till the last minute on that one!

I hope you check these out! Deborah has a new, non-Baba Yaga book coming out in November, and a third Baba Yaga book in February. It's not that long for a devoted reader to wait!

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tamora pierce

September 2016

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