A Baba Yaga Story

A Wolf for a Spell by Karah Sutton

Publication Date: December 1, 2020

Summary from NetGalley:

Since she was a pup, Zima has been taught to fear humans–especially witches–but when her family is threatened, she has no choice but to seek help from the witch Baba Yaga.

Baba Yaga never does magic for free, but it just so happens that she needs a wolf’s keen nose for a secret plan she’s brewing . . . Before Zima knows what’s happening, the witch has cast a switching spell and run off into the woods, while Zima is left behind in Baba Yaga’s hut–and Baba Yaga’s body!

Meanwhile, a young village girl named Nadya is also seeking the witch’s help, and when she meets Zima (in Baba Yaga’s form), they discover that they face a common enemy. With danger closing in, Zima must unite the wolves, the witches and the villagers against an evil that threatens them all.

ARC provided by Random House Children’s via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

I just loved this Baba Yaga story with a slightly kinder witch and several strong female characters to help her save the forrest and their homes.

This version of Baba Yaga is slightly different in that she can be kind when she wants to be, and she has a strong commitment to save the forrest in which she lives. Of course part of the issue is that she is the one who put it in danger to begin with, but she was tricked into it, so we can perhaps forgive her. I did enjoy watching her figure out how to make every thing come together.

I think Zima was my favorite character. She is the wolf, and she has such a sense of loyalty and duty to her family and to the forrest that she doesn’t let much get in her way to protect it. She was also pretty funny when she switches places with Baba Yaga as she has no idea how to behave as human should. The author did a good job with this idea.

Nadya was also a character that I could get behind. She was a self reliant orphan who didn’t really like that she was expected to obey, and become someones wife or housekeeper just because she was a girl. She was a very brave character as well, and also has a great sense of loyalty to those she loves and to the forrest.

This was such a lovely modern day fairytale with lots of Russian touches and nods to the original stories. There are lots of good twists and turns to the story and enough action to keep kids turning the pages. A really nice addition to the Baba Yaga stories and one that kids will enjoy!

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