Baba Yaga: Egg and Spoon

Baba Yaga is the patron witch of this blog. Why? I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know of the Russian witch who flies through the air in a mortar and pestle and whose house—mobile, sustainable, compact—walks about on chicken legs. My grandparents left a Russia of cossacks, pogroms, and hunger. Baba Yaga is the dark Russian soul but also transformative—if she doesn’t eat you, she’ll help you.
Gregory Maguire in EGG AND SPOON imagines the witch as an anachronistic time traveler with a wide frame of reference, not unlike the Merlin of T.H. White’s THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING. She’s bad—and very charming—much as one would imagine from the author of WICKED.
The plot rests on a look alike pair of girls—one a wealthy aristocrat, one a starving peasant. A tsar worried about Bolsheviks. A missing firebird. And a bad case of global warming.
It is all a lot of fun, but Baba Yaga is the heart of the matter. When a child approaches her house illuminated by lit skulls—well, I’d met the witch before, but my blood most gratifyingly ran cold. The house itself is quite “animated”—perhaps a bit too much like a Disney movie at times, but as a rule quite entertaining.
Thanks to Hannah Mahoney, who passed the book along to me. It is my favorite literary appearance of Baba Yaga (I found DEATHLESS a little too harsh). I feel I know her better. Well worth the read!

Patagonia, AZ

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