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Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse
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Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  177 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews

A young woman discovers the power to speak up and take control of her fate—a theme that has never been more timely than it is now…

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 abou

Kindle Edition, 144 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by
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Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Stories retold are stories remade...This is a tale both old and new, borrowed, narrowed, broadened, deepened". In Russian folklore, Baba Yaga is a terrifying old witch who can be cruel and fearsome or perhaps powerful and kind. She lives in a nondescript hut deep in the forest. The hut moves around on chicken feet. When Baba Yaga calls to her house, it will rotate counterclockwise until the front door faces her. Baba's method of transportation is a human size mortar she steers with a pestle as ...more
Sep 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
Things I loved:
The cover
Yolen's take on the Baba Yaga
The Verse - skillfully done, the verse unfolds the story of a nameless girl, fleeing a bad home and finding one with Baba Yaga.

I don't really have a lot of them. But perhaps it was a bit difficult to feel emotional connection to the storyline.

Thanks to Netgalley for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review
Lily ☁️
My full review is now up on my blog!

I have questions I don’t know
how to ask. There are answers
I don’t know how to hear.

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Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
Wow! I've never read books in verse, and I normally don't even like poetry, but this one definitely packs a punch! I loved it.

The feminist themes of a girl without her place, mixed with hints of mythology and the general woman-witch archetype was amazing. This is a fast read, and you don't know quite what to make of it, but you know the feeling is good.

Finding Baba Yaga hints at many things - abusive or restricting, over-religious parents, lack of freedom to choose even your own thoughts or word
Quite an original way of retelling the Baba Yaga tale in verse, mixing the old Russian folktale with a modern world setting and giving Baba Yaga a protégée that's an escapee girl, Natasha, who flees an abusive father and somehow ends up in the witch's forest cottage.

At first, I was a bit confused not just because of the obscure opening verses but also because Yolen chose the "gradual reveal" peeling-the-onion style of storytelling, and it's only the further you read that the plot becomes cleare
destiny ♎ [howling libraries]
I’ve always loved the story of Baba Yaga, and I never seem to tire of stories told in verse, a storytelling-through-poetry method that works beautifully for whimsical, dark fairytales like this one. Something unique to Finding Baba Yaga, however, is the modern spin Yolen puts on it; while you know that it takes place in modern times, it’s easy to forget when Natasha is in Baba Yaga’s house of magic and mysteries.

This is a tale
both old and new,
borrowed, narrowed,
broadened, deepened.

The reason
Oct 18, 2018 marked it as wishlist
The story of Baba Yaga - written in verse. Colour me curious!
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"All I can start with is Once Upon a Time,
that oldest and truest of lies."
I was super psyched to receive a galley of this YA book at BEA 2018 and it didn’t disappoint. Poor home life, runaway teen and a modern retelling of the infamous witch Baba Yaga — and it’s written in verse! This is quite the atmospheric fairy tale with descriptive verse that is concise and effective to the reader. Natasha was an easy character to relate to. The story was short, but packed a memorable punch. I can’t wait to see the illustrations that are supposed to be included in the final versi ...more
Sep 29, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a very beautiful yet sometimes confusing read. By the end I pretty much grasped the overall concept but while reading I had some rough patches.
Nov 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I don’t normally read things like this but it was very enjoyable.
Leah Rachel
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse is a short, dark novel, an interesting take on the classic Baba Yaga tale. It’s very rapid, likely a novella. At the very beginning, it was a little hard to get into, but later on, the storyline picked up, and the poems got better quickly. My favorite poems were the ones where Jane Yolen connects the witch to the modern age—like Mortar/Pestle, where “Now and then, aliens are reported, / or the government says she’s a weather balloon, / or sometimes an in ...more
Sophie Anderson
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, wise, humorous and poignant. Everything I hoped it would be. Poems, and a story, to treasure, to ponder, and to re-read time and time again. I loved it.
Nicholas Kotar
Nov 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Ok, so Russian fairy tales. My favorites, obviously. And not merely because I grew up with them or because I have to because of my Russian heritage. No, they're some of the best fairy tales in the world because they're so ambiguous, confusing, and sometimes just plain crazy. But most importantly, they are just about as inclusive as anything you will ever read. They bring you in, huddle you up in a blanket, dump hygge on you in bucketfuls, and make you tremble both with fear and delight.

So when
Years and years ago I took up quilting. I liked the way you could take scraps of things, leftovers from a shirt, a set of curtains, and remake them into something completely new, and beautiful.

For me, reading this book was like seeing the design in that collection of disparate pieces. Turn this piece of fabric around, and the design becomes something new. Rest it against something contrasting, and see colours come out that you never saw before. Or parts of an old familiar story that you never ex
Zoe Zamora
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m a little unsure how much I actually like this but it was definitely worth reading. This defies so many expectations and challenges how we approach fairy tales, storytelling, right and wrong, love and loss, prose and poetry. This is definitely the type of story that needs to be read in one sitting or two and maybe revisiting. I appreciated the tie in to Russian culture, fairy tales, and mythology, and I would recommend that anyone interested in these topics or storytelling check this out.
Christy Lenzi
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written. I wanted more. I wanted a pace that gave permission for more, that allowed space for the full story. Felt cursory. But still. Beautiful.
Christina Reid
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Original and fascinating. A treat for anyone who is familiar with fairytales and the folklore surrounding Baba Yaga.
Full review to come!
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
The poems didn't speak to me, which is an entirely subjective and entirely necessary quality for something like this. And I wish it had more to do with Baba Yaga and less to do with the modern narrator. The Issues™ were presented too heavy-handedly, and there was not enough of the visceral and emotional truths that are so necessary for fairy tales to work. ...more
CS Peterson
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-sff
Grocery store pumpkins are at high tide, and the aisles are stuffed with bags of fun-sized candy. Shorter days are bringing windy nights, apple cider, and scary stories told by the fire. In celebration of the season, we declare this “Crone Appreciation Week” here at Fiction Unbound.

Baba Yaga is the archetypal crone. She is a slavic legend, an old woman, probably immortal, with iron teeth, who lives in a house that walks about on chicken legs and is surrounded by a fence of human bones. She flies
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fairy-tales
This review was originally posted on

I was offered an e-ARC of Finding Baba Yaga in return for an honest review and took it on a whim due to a life-long fascination with the old witch. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I have a great fondness for Slavic and Russian folklore, and when I heard about a reimagining of the Baba, I was all too happy to take a very close look. Novels written in verse are not my usual cup of tea, however -- I’m much more comfortable with prose. That said
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One day it finally comes to an end for Natasha or “Nasty” as her high school peers call her. She can no longer endure the unkind words, the soap in the mouth, the names. Her mother and father give her these things too and she is filled with shame. It might be easier to stay or it might be easier to go, but to go where? There is no destination. “Nowhere becomes my destination.” (Page 18).

Natasha narrates her own story as she tells about her long journey into the woods. There is hunger, wind, cold
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc-paper
"This Is Not a Fairy Tale
Expect no princes*,
Expect no magic rings
Expect no glass slippers
Expect no fairy godmothers
Expect no singing dwarfs
Expect no dragons."

*Well, maybe you should expect one, because every tale with a Vasilisa must have a prince. But Vasilisa is not our protagonist here.

This is a luminous retelling of Baba Yaga, in which we see the making of Baba Yaga through the eyes and life of a runaway girl, Natasha (Nasty to some, Tasha to Vasilisa). Natasha has run away from a home with
Marshall Wayne Lee
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jane Yolen's _Finding Baba Yaga_ receives four stars for me due to the beautiful way she presented her story, the character of Natasha.

Let me start out with a negative (that might just be my lack of understanding of the poetry.) One slightly disappointing aspect is that it seems to be more free verse than I had expected. I'm not a huge fan of free verse. I like to see writers working within the boundaries of poetical forms. However, at times, I did see some patterns, and I also counted some of t
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, e-book, fantasy
I've only read a couple of novels in verse -- Love That Dog and Hate That Cat (and I think there were a couple of other Sharon Creech novels written in verse) -- but for the most part, this is a conceit I tend to avoid. I don't like poetry that much, and I was disappointed to find out this was written in verse. Still, I like the Baba Yaga tale enough, and wanted to read Jane Yolen enough, to give it a try.

The bad news is the verse was a bit more troublesome than Creech's. Yolen goes for full-on
*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.*

Usually I like stories written in lyrical prose, and love fairytale retellings. I've been fascinated by Baba Yaga ever since I read Egg and Spoon last year, but I'm not as familiar with her and the surrounding stories as I should be. I really expected to like this book, a modernized retelling of sorts. But I didn't.

Though the prose is well-written, the story didn't really grab me. There wasn't an
Yolen reinvents the classic tale of Baba Yaga with a modern twist, and poetry. I loved the texture of words Yolen created, mixing soft with rough, kind with unkind. You could really get a sense of Tash's turmoil, her sense of self. Her character growth is well developed, from afraid and weak to strong and confident under the Baba's tutelage.

There are some wonderfully playful elements to this story, between Tash and Vasilisa, and even with Baba Yaga. Yolen plays with modern elements, like with B
Electronic ARC provided by NetGalley.

I've been a fan of Jane Yolen's for over twenty years, and one of the best things about her is that she never stops finding new ways to tell stories. "Finding Baba Yaga" is a fairy tale set in the modern era and told entirely through verse. Each chapter of the story contains several short poems that weave together to tell the story of Natasha, a young girl who runs away from an unstable home situation and finds a new start in the home of the witch Baba Yaga.
J.A. Ironside
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

If I had realised this was a novel written in verse, I probably wouldn't have requested it since I'm not fond of that as a literary device for modern storytelling. However I found this interesting and at times enjoyable so I'm glad I didn't realise it was in verse until I started reading it. It tells the story, through short poems, of modern teen, Natasha, who runs away from home straight into Russian folklore.

The folklore side of things
Nice quasi-update of the Baba Yaga story. I love how Yolen incorporates Vasilisa into the tale and creates a strong context of Natasha's desperate search for a better home. I'm not sure if I knew Finding Baba Yaga was to be a novel in verse when I first heard about it, but I have mixed feelings about the use of the format here now that I've read it. Many of the poems do pop, but I was fully intrigued by the story and would have loved more detail than a N-I-V tends to provide. Still, this is anot ...more
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Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachuset ...more
“Like the piano player, I have memory in my fingertips. I watch words spill out creating worlds, inventing colors, bridging generations.” 1 likes
“Stories retold are stories remade.” 0 likes
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