“May you have strength on the long and arduous journey ahead. The stars are calling for you. Move on with gratitude for your time on Earth. Every moment now an eternity. You carry with you memories of infinite value, the love of your family and home. Peace at returning to the stars. The great cycle is complete.”
Marinka lives in a house with chicken legs. Yes, chicken legs. Throughout the year, Marinka’s house moves to different locations making it difficult for her to make friends. All she wants is a friend to play with and talk to like any other child her age. Marinka’s grandmother is a Yaga, a Guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It is Marinka’s destiny to follow in her grandmothers footsteps and become the next Guardian drawing her further away from that human companion that she dreams of. The more she is forbidden from doing what she desires, the more she rebels and breaks the rules, with devastating consequences. Marinka’s grandmother disappears. The House with Chicken Legs follows Marinka’s journey to save her grandmother and bring her back from the afterlife.
The title and the cover of this book immediately drew me in, I actually bought this book without reading the synopsis as I just couldn’t resist it. Upon reading the synopsis I was drawn in even further and moved it high upon my TBR so I could get stuck into it. Essentially it is a retelling of the Baba Yaga tale, with a twist of their being a whole family of Yaga, who come together and celebrate death before those deceased pass onto the afterlife. I started this book today, and I finished this book today. I just could not put it down. The House with Chicken Legs has such a whimsical feel to it, it draws you into such a magical world, one which you do not want to leave. It definitely gives off fairytale vibes!
I love the key themes explored within this book; death and loss. It shows the emotions that a younger person may go through when it comes to these things and the coping mechanisms that they adapt to their daily life. Marinka’s grandmother disappears to the afterlife and you can feel the loss that she is feeling as a result of this. Anderson portrays her characters with such a strength that you endure the exact emotions that Marinka is feeling at the time. Denial is a key mechanism that is explored throughout this book, and we see the lengths that Marinka will go through to prove that her grandmother is still very much alive and will return to her. The book ends with the mechanism of acceptance, the realisation that her grandmother is gone, but also realising that the world is still continuing and Marinka finds strength within this. I feel like the writing style and the plot really does relate to its intended audience and young readers who dive into this world will be able to pick up the important messages embedded within Anderson’s writing. Whilst it is directed at a younger audience, as an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed it also and would recommend that adults also read this book.
I love how the house also had its own little personality. It bought happiness, sadness and hope to the story and to its characters. The house itself felt like its own character to adore. This aspect of the plot made the book a joy to read. I now want to live in a house with chicken legs!
This book has such magical feel to it and it was just such a pleasure to spend my afternoon curled up immersed in this world. Whilst it made me feel like it was a homely family setting, there was also a certain supernatural feel to it which really kept me on my toes. I would recommend this book to everybody, whether you are young or old, male or female, this book needs to be read by each and everyone of you. I cannot wait to read Sophie Anderson’s next book!