“Wickedly Magical” is a re-working of the Baba Yaga lore. As you may know, Baba Yaga is a strong, powerful, frightening witch who comes to us from Slavic folklore. She often lives in a hut that stands on chicken legs and is sometimes surrounded by a fence with a skull on each pole. Sometimes the hut has a door which is not revealed unless a magical phrase is uttered. In most tales, Baba Yaga is portrayed as an antagonist; however, some characters have been known to seek her out for her wisdom. She often fulfills the function of donor; that is, her role is in supplying the hero, sometimes unwillingly, with something necessary to further his quest. Seeking out her aid is a dangerous act though. Any hero, or heroine, who seeks her out needs to be properly prepared and pure of spirit. He or she also needs to be polite. It is said she ages one year every time she is asked a question, which may explain her reluctance to help. This effect, however, can be reversed with a special blend of tea made with blue roses.
Title: Wickedly Magical (Baba Yaga #0.5)
Author: Deborah Blake
Published: August 5, 2014 by Berkley
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one…
Barbara Yager loves being one of the most powerful witches in the world, but sometimes she’d rather kick back in her enchanted Airstream with a beer in her hand than work out how to grant the requests of the worthy few who seek her out.
But when a man appears with the token of a family debt of honor, Barbara must drop everything to satisfy the promise owed by her predecessor—and she isn’t above being a little wicked to make sure the debt is paid in full…
I love the idea behind this series. There isn’t one single Baba Yaga, rather it is a title that a few women carry, along with the benefits and responsibilities is confers. This is a novella that introduces the series. Barbara, one of the American Babas, has to help a man get his children back. They’ve been taken by the mother to a cult run by a super-charismatic man, almost magically charismatic. I liked Barbara. She’s tough, travels in a “modified” Airstream and has a dragon companion who is currently taking the shape of a dog. as this is less than 100 pages, we just start getting the feel for the world and for the Baba’s lives.
Some of the dialogue was a bit off and the problem was a little too easy to fix, but I do like that she had to help the seeker. My biggest problem was with the dragon/dog. To me, he acted way more like a dog than a dragon taking the form of a dog, if that makes sense. Except for the occasional threat to eat someone, he seemed most interested in having a nice meaty bone to chew on.
It’s a fun take on an old character and I liked how Blake brought in the Russian aspect of Baba Yaga, the magical house and the blue rose tea. I also get the impression that the Babas can be dangerous enemies to have. I’m looking forward to reading Wickedly Dangerous. I’m hoping for a bit more oomph to the story. This one was good, but not as great as I think it could be, given the premise.
Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.