Imagine the fairy tale genre is like a quaint, little cottage in the middle of the woods- hell, why don’t we make the cottage out of candy while we’re at it- and along comes a new adaptation, or in this case, a little renovation; perhaps, some new carpeting, or even an additional sunroom. Now, picture that house today- an old, rickety monstrosity that’s more mismatched than your closet on laundry day. Nevermind, don’t picture that. Anyways, that is Vassa in the Night. And it is spectacular.
While most adaptations are typically based off Disney classics, Vassa in the Night is based off a Russian tale, so it’s relatively uncommon. Although Porter isn’t above borrowing elements from other fairy tales, her premise scores brownie points for originality: a beautiful girl is wrongfully imprisoned in an otherworldly 7-11 and conceivably faces decapitation. See what I mean about the house metaphor? Linguistically, the book isn’t complex or sophisticated, but it’s chock full of enchanting imagery and sprinkled with SAT words. It’s the lovechild of Wes Anderson, a dark comedy, John Oliver, Grimm’s fairy tales, and a feather boa. Nevermind, don’t picture that either. All in all, “9 pissed off sentient middle fingers” out of ten.