Baba Yaga Books

The Baba Yaga is one of my favourite mythic characters, and she seems to be making a bit of a cultural reemergence, so I thought I’d share a few contemporary books where she plays a starring role.

Out recently is Sophie Anderson’s wonderful The House on Chicken Legs. I loved it so much. It’s a delightful and moving take on the role of the Baba Yaga, and explores the finding your own path in life, despite what others may have planned for you! It’s aimed at a middle grade audience, but I think you should buy a copy for a young person in your life, and one for yourself too.

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Jane Yolen’s Finding Baba Yaga is due out in October 2018, and if you’ve read any of her other work, you know it’s going to be good. If Tor would like to send me a review copy, I would not complain. Hint Hint.

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Baba Yaga Laid an Egg is a novel that explores women, ageing and feminism, based around the Baba Yaga myth, and involves “a gambling triumph, sudden death on the golf course, a long-lost grandchild, an invasion of starlings, and wartime flight.” Yes please.

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Baba Yaga is a book I’ve been coveting for years. It’s a collection of twenty nine Baba Yaga tales, accompanied by information about the different tales and their history, and illustrations from artists spanning 200 years. Unfortunately as an academic book, it’s pretty pricey. One day…

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While we’re on academic texts, a friend of mine stumbled across this book on the Baba Yaga in the op shop! And even better, she gave it to me! A good friend is one who will stumble across rare academic texts and think of you… It’s a dense exploration: small type and lots of pages, but don’t let that turn you off. It’s an incredibly comprehensive deep-dive into Baga Yaga’s history and folklore.

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Ask Baba Yaga is based on a fantastic advice series that featured on The Hairpin. I’ve included an example below. Baba Yaga as Agony Aunt? What could be better?

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Baba Yaga’s Assistant looks fantastic. A graphic novel, it looks both delightful and just the right amount of terrifying:

…The fearsome witch of folklore needs an assistant, and Masha needs an adventure. She may be clever enough to enter Baba Yaga’s house on chicken legs, but within its walls, deceit is the rule. To earn her place, Masha must pass a series of tests, outfox a territorial bear, and make dinner for her host. No easy task, with children on the menu!

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Another graphic novel, this time for more of an adult audience, I’m off to order a copy of Baba Yaga and the Wolf as soon as I finish this post. The art is beautiful:

Visually influenced by the dense forested landscape of British Columbia, Baba Yaga and the Wolf tells the story of Katerina and the journey she takes to the edge of the Underworld and its gatekeeper, Baba Yaga, in order to save her husband Ivan from a terrible fate.

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And of course, our very own Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women. Vasilisa is soon to be released as a paperback. Yay! You can pre-order your copy here.

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Do you have an favourite books that feature the Baba Yaga. We’d love hear about them!

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Twice Upon a Time: books that will make you rethink Fairy Tales

We hope that Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women will encourage people to rethink the fairy tales they have always known. Many people think of princess tales as the standard, but looking back through the history of fairy tales, you’ll find many stories of women who slayed dragons, rescued princes and saved their own lives. If you want to delve deeper into the history and cultural theory of the genre, here are some books that will help you change the way you think about fairy tales.

Fearless Girls, Wise Women and Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World. 

This is one of the most loved anthologies in my collection.  It is where I first read The Stolen Child (as The Stolen Bairn) and one I often go back to. As the blurb states, it is: a definitive sourcebook of folktales and fairytales and the first of its kind to feature a variety of multicultural heroines.5e8c1b8d18bc1de6c3e0c383fba7d8cbc6515d9b

 

From the Beast to the Blonde.

If you have an interest in fairy tale theory, then Marina Warner won’t be a new name to you. With a razor sharp wit and delightful writing style, she’s a hero(ine) to many. Here she discusses the history and meaning of fairy tales, and how their different narrators and writers affected the status of the stories they told. For more, try her latest Once Upon a Time.
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Twice Upon a Time

This is a brilliant book on women writers of fairy tales. From the Conteuses of 17th century France to contemporary authors, Wanning Harris discusses how their important contribution the field has often fallen by the wayside. Buy it. Read it. You won’t regret it.


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The Uses of Enchantment

Is now a good time to admit that Jungian psychoanalysis of fairy tales often makes me want to throw things? No? Well, it might not always be my cup of tea, but the focus on self-understanding and accessing inner strengths might just change your preconceptions of the fairy tales you know so well. Bruno Bettleheim’s The Uses of Enchantment is a classic, and one that I’m pleased to admit I’ve never thrown out of a nearby window.  For an alternate view, try Maria Tatar’s excellent Off with their Heads.

Also in my collection is The Feminine in Fairytales, a deep dive into the psychology of many classic tales, and the archetypes and symbolic themes within them. 51uj-Z3cS2L._SL300_

The Victorian Press and the Fairy Tale

The Victorian rise of newspapers heralded somewhat of a golden age for fairy tales. Often released in periodical form it was the first time they were accessible to a mass audience in literary form. This is a fascinating look at how fairy tales were used at the time to debate issues of the day: socialism, women’s rights, racism and more.

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The Irresistible Fairy Tale

I can’t write a list of books without including Jack Zipes. Arguably the god father of fairy tale critical theory, he has written widely on most aspects of the fairy tale. Here is a good place to start.f047a35a6d8affb49338e58080cf8850caa181d0

The Bloody Chamber

Angela Carter is the doyen of contemporary revisionist fairy tales, and her feminist approach is unflinching and fearless. If you have ever dismissed fairy tales as being light hearted fluff for children, The Bloody Chamber is a collection of tales that will change your mind. Seriously, this is not the bedtime collection for your six year old. Or you, if you’re prone to vivid dreams.

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If these have whetted your appetite, here are a few more books that are teetering on my TBR pile. Do you have any favourites that I’ve missed? Leave a comment below, or share this post on social media with a book that changed your perspective on fairy tales.

And don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women.

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10 gift ideas for folklore & fairy tale lovers

Inspired by Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women, we’ve trawled the Internet to seek out a range of gifts for the folklore and fairy tale lover in your life. From the stunning to the quirky, we’re sure there’s at least one thing here that will thrill its recipient.

1. Baba Yaga pendant:

This pendant featuring an ammonite fossil is definitely eye-catching … and looking at it onscreen, there’s a definite sense that she’s watching. There’s wisdom in that gaze. It’s available here.

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2. V for Vasilisa:

We loved these custom-designed typeface prints – especially the V for Vasilisa. The original illustration was created using pencil crayons, graphite, water colour crayons and white watercolour. Prints are available here and there are plenty of other fairy tale-inspired letters to choose from.il_570xN.1091697821_91o8.jpg

3. Katie Crackernuts’ bluebird

In Kate’s retelling of ‘Kate Crackernuts’ aka ‘Katie Crackernuts’, Katie gives a fairy child hazelnuts in exchange for a bluebird so she can save the young lord who’s exhausted from dancing all night, every night. This gorgeous pendant is a lovely reminder of freedom. Buy it here.

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5. The Serpent Prince

A brave gardener’s daughter marries a giant serpent to save a prince. That’s a pretty big display of love and so is this solid, high grade silver vintage Indian snake chain belt. It’s not for everyone, but then again, neither is marrying a serpent! Available here.

5. Fairer-than-a-Fairy

A princess is kidnapped by an evil fairy and has only her dog, cat and a Rainbow prince to keep her company. But he only visits when the sky is cloudless. This crystal sun catcher is bound to bring colour and light into your days. Available here.

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6. The Singing, Springing Lark

In her blog post titled The most gorgeous fairy tale books in the world, Kate recommends The Lady & The Lion (a version of ‘The Singing, Springing Lark’, retold by Laurel Long and Jacqueline K Ogburn) for its ‘utterly exquisite’ illustrations. Buy here.

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6. The Stolen Child – shawl pin

In Kate’s retelling of ‘The Stolen Child’, a young woman knits an otherworldly shawl and offers it to the faery folk who have stolen her baby. This antiqued silver plated brass pin with a Victorian-style design of a maiden and harp is a real beauty and would suit a delicate shawl. Available here.

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7. The Toy Princess

For the puzzle-lover, why not check out this hand-cut, collectible wooden jigsaw puzzle. The image reminds us of Ursula in Kate’s retelling of The Toy Princess when she returns to the well-mannered but joyless kingdom of her birth. Buy the puzzle here.

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8. Stories are made for recycling

We truly believe that we need to keep telling and writing stories to keep them alive. This beautiful leather-bound book journal includes illustrations and select “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” stories. You can order this or something like it here.

9. Quirky and cute

This fairy tale themed umbrella will definitely make its owner stand out in a crowd. Best of all, it’s not just for fashion – it can get wet! You can buy this here.

 

10. Tea time

How cute is this fairy tale themed tea cosy? Its creator says:

Fairies like to move about
From their world to our own
And when they come to visit ours
I want them to have a home

You can buy this here. Serve with your favourite tea pot and tea cup – you could even try the Fairy Tale blend from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Are you inspired? Let us know your favourite.

But wait, there’s more …

Pre-orders of Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women are now open and come with a free gift for the first 1000 orders.