One more round for Baba Yaga! Into the Forest: Tales of the Baby Yaga edited by Lindy Ryan is just another of many recent sets of adaptations of the Slavic witch of the wilds. Each of these short stories is a unique and inventive retelling of this newly popular folk story. Continue reading to get my full review.
A collection of new and exclusive short stories inspired by the Baba Yaga. Featuring Gwendolyn Kiste, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Mercedes M. Yardley, Monique Snyman, Donna Lynch, Lisa Quigley, and R. J. Joseph, with a foreword by Christina Henry. Deep in the dark forest, in a cottage that spins on birds’ legs behind a fence topped with human skulls, lives the baba yaga. A guardian of the water of life, she lives with her sisters and takes to the skies in a giant mortar and pestle, creating tempests as she goes. Those who come across the baba yaga may find help, or hinderance, or horror. She is wild, she is woman, she is witch—and these are her tales.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Something for Everyone
There were so many diverse stories, themes, and points of view throughout these retellings. While at the heart of all of them was the Baba Yaga, each author does an amazing job of creating different settings – historical, contemporary, urban, rural, etc. Typically decried as an evil witch that eats children (definitely some Hansel and Gretel vibes in many stories), some stories lend more humanistic than monstrous characteristics to Baba Yaga.
As I have mentioned before in my review of The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore, I’m not well acquainted with the deeper mythology of Baba Yaga. Into the Forest allowed me to see the veins that connected each of these stories and the true essence of his villainous folk character. While each story was different and unique retellings, together they were so well strung together, which is sometimes a challenge I face when reading collections.
Trigger Warnings Galore
I mean, wow. There was a lot happening in these retellings. Certainly, this collection is not for the faint of heart as it is horror to its core. Throughout the book there is violence against women, children – honestly anyone was fair game in many of these stories. These stories are dark and unsettling. This was a stark shift from the string of romance novels I had been reading the previous week!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this collection. I’m not always a fan of collections, but this was an exception. Each story was vibrant, compelling, and (incredibly on theme) horrific. Since I have been vibing with what feels to me like a resurgence of Baba Yaga, I loved more of these aspects of this villain that the authors created. Even though we have left spooky season, this is a collection to keep in mind for your next horror read.