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Absolutely powerful retelling of Baba Yaga’s story that I already know is going to stick with me for a long time. A lot of descriptions of this book compare it to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver – both books I solidly enjoyed – but while Thistlefoot is every bit as enthralling and as clever of a modern folk story retelling as those are, it is so much more than that.

Thistlefoot’s lessons on coping with individual, generational, and community-level trauma as well as the vital importance and power of story telling (especially in the face of oppression and erasure) are incredibly poignant and I already cannot wait to reread this again to delve even deeper.

As a breakout novel, I felt there was a lot of good, revolutionary storytelling taking place for this generation. However, it has story progressions that don’t necessarily make sense, and GennaRose Nethercott uses a variety of storytelling methods to change the speaker and the era – switching back and forth from tsarist Russia to modern times.

The story is told from the perspectives of Bellatine Yaga, Isaac Yaga, Baba Yaga and from the perspective of Thistlefoot – a house with chicken feet and magical abilities.


There are heavy Jewish/Russian references and folklore throughout, creating a fascinating story that ties in influences of real historical events and acknowledges prejudice. The overall message of the story is beautiful – to remember the sins of the past in order to create and ensure a better future for our descendants.

There are references of lesbianism and they/them culture. The author checks all the boxes for your standard YA modern fairytale, with a heavy twist on the dark side of the human psyche – Overall, I found this novel to be well researched and entertaining!

The quirkiness of the characters, particularly Bellatine and her puppets, Hubcap and his symbolic relationship with Isaac, Thistlefoot’s root of emotional creation and Winnie’s desire to be alive all brought the experience home for me – this book is deep in the very way that this reality needs right now.


A Stranger in the Mirror

The Undead, Part 15


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