(Dreaming Anastasia # 3)
By: Joy Preble
Pub. Date: August 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Stories within stories. Secrets within secrets. In accepting powers from the legendary witch Baba Yaga, Anne must tackle a complex set of missions: Discover the secret of their enemy's newfound immortality; decide whether she can kill him to free her family from a vicious curse; come to terms with the magic that now resides inside her; and finally find true love with Ethan. The riveting conclusion to the trilogy that began with Dreaming Anastasia.
I am always a little afraid when I know I am going to be reading the last book of a series. I am so worried that the author won't give the characters the ending that I want for them! But I was pleasantly surprised with the direction that Anastasia Forever took, and I am happy to say that I loved the ending!
My heart really does go out for Anne and Ethan. Only a little while ago, Anne was a normal girl, and in a split second her entire life has changed. She learned that she is a witch, and a powerful one at that, Baba Yaga keeps showing up at the worst times, and she keeps getting transported to the past. Seriously, can this girl catch a break! Ethan is still so broken and he is just trying to protect Anne and find his way. Also, he thinks he is turning evil, and finds out his ex-girlfriend wasn't exactly who she said she was. I honestly just want to give each of them a cupcake and tell them that it's going to be ok.
As with the other two stories in the series, the plot is entertaining and it kept me turning the pages faster and faster! I needed to know how it all was going to turn out! The writing was a bit slow at times, but overall it was a very enjoyable read.
I'm sad to see this series end, but I am excited to see what Joy Preble has in store for us next!
Top Ten Things to Know About Baba Yaga the Witch
Author of the DREAMING ANASTASIA series, Sourcebooks
(DREAMING ANASTASIA, 2009; HAUNTED, 2011; ANASTASIA FOREVER, 2012)
1. She is the most famous witch in Russian fairy tales/folklore. In most (maybe all) Slavic languages, ‘Baba’ means ‘old woman.’ The ‘Yaga’ is also from Slavic roots, but it’s a bit more varied in the stories of its etymology. But the easiest way to think of her name is Grandma Yaga. In the DREAMING series, I have Anastasia refer to her as Auntie Yaga, which I thought an interesting little twist. I imagined the witch as asking her captive Anastasia to call her this, perhaps as a joke, perhaps to give Anastasia the sense that the Baba Yaga is gentle, perhaps even benign, which couldn’t be farther from the truth!
2. Many authors have used her in their stories—from picture books like Babushka Baba Yaga by Patricia Polacco to genre fiction by Orson Scott Card and Neil Gaiman. There’s even a Buffy the Vampire Slayer novelization with Baba Yaga in it! She’s in movies, cartoons, anime… you name it and the old girl has appeared in it! My books are in very good company.
3. Baba Yaga lives in a hut that stands on chicken legs so that it can help her evade her enemies. (This is such a great visual that it’s been taken over in other stories too. If you’ve seen the anime film, Howl’s
, Howl’s house also runs around on
chicken legs! This is the folklore that image comes from) In some stories,
including mine, pikes with the skulls of her enemies surround her house like a
fence. Cool, huh? And when she travels,
she rides in a huge mortar (that big black that you use to grind spices… those
big black bowls they put guacamole in sometimes look like it, too!) and she
stirs the air with a huge pestle. (That’s the grinding tool) Moving Castle
4. The idea of ‘grinding’ from that pestle in #3 connects to another fact about Baba Yaga: her forest is a place of change and transformation. Once you enter her forest, you will not come out the same… even if you survive. Baba Yaga is all about duality both in appearance and behavior. Like all strong women, she’s complex. She may use her considerable power for good. Or she may grind your bones and stick your head on her fence. She’s mercurial and powerful and she can’t quite be defined. I found this particularly fascinating in terms of women and power, which is definitely a motif that runs throughout the series. Societies tend to marginalize old women, to define them by beauty lost, to de-sexualize them. But Baba Yaga won’t stand for that and I love that about her. I thought about this a lot in building her backstory, which continues in ANASTASIA FOREVER. I wanted to know exactly how she became who she is when Anne meets her. Exactly why she agreed to protect Anastasia for the Brotherhood. And I loved the complexity of what developed from that!
5. Lots of people have written amazing articles about Baba Yaga! A good place to start if you want to read more is here: http://www.endicott-studio.com/rdrm/rrBabaYaga.html
6. Physically, Baba Yaga is very tall. She has iron teeth and a huge nose and these enormous removable hands that detach from her body to do her bidding. I use all of these physical factors in my series.
7. In many Baba Yaga tales, she has three horsemen who serve and protect her. Each rides a different color horse – one black, one red, and one white, reflecting different times of the day.
8. In most of the folktales, Baba Yaga has boundaries that she cannot cross. Although I do have her appearing in Anne’s real world, this is still a factor in the DREAMING series, both literally with a river that runs through her forest as well as metaphorically in terms of Anne. There is only so much Baba Yaga can tell Anne. The rest Anne must figure out on her own terms.
9. In her stories, she is never defeated. Ever. She always comes back!
10. And here is how I envisioned Anastasia first talking about Baba Yaga, my version of the Vasilisa story that used in DREAMING ANASTASIA:
"In the story, there was a girl. Her name was Vasilisa, and she was very beautiful. Her parents loved her. Her life was good. But things changed. Her mother died. Her father remarried. And the new wife - well, she wasn't so fond of Vasilisa. So she sent her to the hut of the fearsome witch Baba Yaga to fetch some light for their cabin. And that was supposed to be that. For no one returned from Baba Yaga's. But Vasilisa had the doll her dying mother gave her. And the doll- because this was a fairy tale and so dolls could talk - told her what to do. Helped her get that light she came for and escape. And when Vasilisa returned home, that same light burned so brightly that it killed the wicked stepmother who sent Vasilisa to that horrible place. Vasilisa remained unharmed. She married a handsome prince. And lived happily ever after.
When I listened to my mother tell the story, I would pretend I was Vasilisa the Brave. In my imagination, I heeded the advice of the doll. I outwitted the evil Baba Yaga, the fearsome witch who kept her enemies' heads on pikes outside her hut. Who rode the skies in her mortar and howled to the heavens and skittered about on bony legs. Who ate up lost little girls with her iron teeth.
But the story was not as I imagined...."
About the Author
A former English teacher, Joy is the author of the DREAMING ANASTASIA series (Sourcebooks), which blends paranormal romance with historical fiction. The second in that series, HAUNTED, is out now, and the final book of the trilogy, title TBA, but currently ANASTASIA FOREVER, is due in Fall 2012. Another paranormal – about a sixteen-year-old stoner turned guardian angel – THE SWEET DEAD LIFE – is set in
Houstonand slated for May 2013, from Soho Press. Joy grew up in Chicagobut now lives with her family in Houstonwhere she writes full time and frequently gets into wild rumpuses and other mischief. She is not a fan of the Houstonsummer but does love cowboy boots, going to the rodeo, and the coffee drinks at Empire Café.
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