I’m afraid to admit that I was not familiar with the Baba Yaga legend or myths, but that’s part of the reason I was interested in reading this. The name sounded familiar, but I’m quite sure I’ve never read anything about the old witch. It helped to see that the introduction was from Christina Henry – and author whose work I quite enjoy.
All the stories in this book are by female authors. “Today’s leading voices of women-in-horror,” is how the Goodreads blurb reads but I am not familiar with any of the authors in this collection other than Henry, who only wrote the introduction. Certainly I wouldn’t expect to know all 23 authors, but to not know any …? Maybe “leading voices” is pushing the hyperbole a bit?
I felt as though I got a pretty good picture of who Baba Yaga is within the first couple of stories and I was able to enjoy the variations presented here. As with almost any anthology, there were stories I enjoyed, stories I didn’t care for, and mostly a lot of average stories.
It’s important to note that this a collection of horror fiction or dark fantasy stories and with that in mind the first story to jump out at me was “Mama Yaga” by Christina Sng – a new look at the Hansel & Gretel story. This was horrific in all the best ways for readers of dark fantasy and horror. You know you’re in for something dark when a story starts this way:
Sometime during the first season of my life, I developed a taste for human flesh.
It is an acquired taste, much like blue cheese and black truffles, a vile abomination to the tongue until it eventually, over time and exposure, becomes accepted and appreciated.
This was the 6th story in the collection and until this story I was worried I wasn’t going to find anything really worth reading.
The next story to tickle my fancy in dark and eerie ways was “Sugar and Spice and the Old Witch’s Price” by Lisa Quigly.
“Water Like Broken Glass” by Carina Bissett was among my favorites, as was “A Trail of Feathers, A Trail of Blood” by Stephanie M. Wytovich, which was truly terrifying and I thought was one of the first stories to really give some good character description. And I liked “Stork Bites” by EV Knight which had a witch-take on abortion.
None of the stories were terrible or unreadable, but I do think the above stories stood out as being exceptional.
This book contains the following:
PREFACE by Lindy Ryan
FOREWORD by Christina Henry
DINNER PLANS WITH BABA YAGA A Poem by Stephanie M. Wytovich
LAST TOUR INTO THE HUNGERING MOONLIGHT by Gwendolyn Kiste
THE STORY OF A HOUSE by Yi Izzy Yu
OF MOONLIGHT AND MOSS by Sara Tantlinger
WORMWOOD by Lindz McLeod
MAMA YAGA by Christina Sng
FLOOD ZONE by Donna Lynch
THE PEDDLER’S PROMISE by Catherine McCarthy
THE SPACE BETWEEN THE TREES by Jo Kaplan
SUGAR AND SPICE AND THE OLD WITCH’S PRICE by Lisa Quigley
BIRDS OF A FEATHER by Monique Snyman
WATER LIKE BROKEN GLASS by Carina Bissett
HERALD THE KNIGHT by Mercedes M. Yardley
ALL BITTERNESS BURNED AWAY by Jill Baguchinsky
A TRAIL OF FEATHERS, A TRAIL OF BLOOD by Stephanie M. Wytovich
BABA YAGA LEARNS TO SHAVE, GETS HER PERIOD, THEN GROWS INTO HER OWN by Jess Hagemann
FAIR TRADE by Jacqueline West
STORK BITES by EV Knight
CHICKEN FOOT by Octavia Cade
WHERE THE HORIZON MEETS THE SKY by R. J. Joseph
MAW MAW YAGA AND THE HUNTER by Alexandrea Weis
BABA YAGA IN REPOSE by Heather Miller
SHADOW AND BRANCH, GHOST FRUIT AMONG THE LULLABIES by Saba Syed Razvi
ABOUT CHRISTINA HENRY
Looking for a good book? Into the Forest: Tales of the Baba Yaga, edited by Lindy Ryan offers up some dark, modern retellings of the Baba Yaga legend. Nothing will revolutionize the way you think of the legend (if you know it at all), but there’s some good, dark fantasy within.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Into the Forest: Tales of the Baba Yaga
editor: Lindy Ryan
publisher: Black Spot Books
paperback, 270 pages