Vassa In The Night

General Information

Title: Vassa In The Night
Author: Sarah Porter
Publication: 2016
Original language: English


All is not well in the world, as manifested by a sudden prolongation of nighttime in Brooklyn. As the city is plunged in interminable darkness, Vassa and her stepsisters struggle to stay alive in a world where shoplifters are beheaded, talking dolls create mischief and strange motorcyclists ride silently around BY’s, a chain store known for its violence and nightly activities. One night, Vassa finds herself walking right into BY’s, and soon becomes entangled in its activities. Will she be able to rescue the captive Night, and restore Brooklyn? Or will her head end up on a stake outside of By’s…


Vassa In The Night is a retelling of the Russian fairy tale Vasilisa The Beautiful. The main characters are pulled out straight from the original fairy tale but, the world behind the story couldn’t be any different.

This book is so weird. Not a little bit weird, but like, genuinely and truly weird.

Weird can be good, but it can be terribly bad and hard to digest too. For me, Vassa In The Night sits right on the edge of those two outcomes. It’s basically yet another Wonderland-esque world where really strange and nonsensical things keep happening to the heroine. My problem with it is that there were so many dense nonsense/dreamlike sequences that, if I had to interrupt my reading of it, whenever I started reading again, I was completely and utterly confused as to what was happening.  If you read it in one continuous swoop, the nonsense makes sense; but stopping to breathe between chapters is not recommended.

So about this world: imagine Wonderland but, add a whole lot of gruesome beheading, blood, dying, pain, confusion, etc. It was a very dark read and honestly, this is another one of those ‘teen books’ that I don’t think should be anywhere near the YA section.

On inspection the something looks like a glass ashtray, except bigger. It would be the perfect size if you were smoking kitchen sinks, maybe, or kindergartners […] On the far side of the bridge I suddenly notice a wall trying to pretend that it was there all along.

Vassa In The Night, p.172

Um… what…? Alrighty then.


The similarities between Wonderland and this magical Brooklyn are too many to count. At one point, I forgot I was reading a retelling of a Russian fairy tale because of the very obvious Wonderland influence. Don’t get me wrong, I love Carroll’s masterpiece, but I wasn’t expecting to find it in a Russian retelling….

Final Thoughts

If you thought Alice in Wonderland was a psychedelic trip, wait till you see what Vassa in The Night has in store. I would have liked it more if it had been shorter. Almost 400 pages was too long for a book so experimental. While I do appreciate the author’s effort to ‘think outside the box’ and not deliver an overdone trope, I think that it was just a bit too heavy and ambitious.



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