Why did it take me so many years to understand that Night is something you can talk to, something that might even decide to watch over you or kiss you just when you’re about to crumple from loneliness?
Title: Vassa in the Night
Author: Sarah Porter
Publication: September 20th 2016 by Tor Teen
Summary from Goodreads:
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 away 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…
My brain hurts. Oh my gosh, does my brain hurt. I have no idea what I just read. Do you want an idea of how hard it was? It took me a week. Books never take me a week to read, not like this. I honestly have no idea what to think right now. I liked it, but I really, really didn’t at the same time? Reading Vassa in the Night was sort of like eating really spicy food that is sort of pleasant going down and then really starts to hurt later. The digestion is a process. Vassa in the Night is a process of peeling apart layers and trying to understand each and every one, and failing almost every time.
I love metaphors and fun language, don’t get me wrong. The writing was beautiful, just like spice is beautiful. But you put too much in and it burns and doesn’t end pretty. Get the idea? Reading Vassa in the Night is the process of prying apart metaphors, similes, and weird ass events that make no sense in order to even understand the most basic level of what is happening. There isn’t a single action, thought, or scene that isn’t bogged down with so much extra seasoning that it’s almost inedible. (I am so sorry for the food analogies, but I’m really hungry and it’s totally perfect). The end product simply doesn’t taste as good as it smells. I love to read, and I love it when language isn’t simply “I did this and that” or other things of the same vein. However, there needs to be a balance. And, in the case of Vassa in the Night, it leans too far on the side of new language for it to be enjoyable.
I personally do not enjoy dissecting sentences in order to figure out who said what and when, hell, even trying to figure out what was said was hard enough. I enjoy thinking, I don’t enjoy my brain functioning on full cylinders like I’m relearning Latin. I felt very detatched from everything that was happening, at least from what I could discern was happening. Sadly, this detatchment was a direct side effect of too much flowering and not enough salt and pepper (black and white). I needed something concrete to cling to, and there was nothing concrete that I could find.
Okay, this review has crossed over into the realm of sounding a bit harsh. Language aside, I did actually enjoy the book itself. Erg was my favorite, Vassa wasn’t bad, and if you can’t appreciate a classic Baba Yaga, you deserve to get eaten alive by her chicken-legged store. The plot was fantastic, the characters intriguing, and the scenery so vivid it’s practically seared into my brain. I mean, come on! The book starts of with a chapter from the point of view of Night, and it was awesome (serious heart eyes here). As I said, the language worked in some situations and in others it made my head explode – but if you can get past it, Vassa’s crazy tale is definitely worth trying.
Vassa in the Night is an intoxicating headache. It hurts, but it’s oh so good at the same time. With a cast of characters that will make you giggle, scenarios that will make you question reality, and the most badass little wooden doll that ever lived, Vassa in the Night is one hell of a hot mess. Just like Dex and Sin, confusion runs amok while devouring this insane tale. If that doesn’t turn off the light switch upstairs, I do recommend giving it a try.