BOOK REVIEW : THE HOUSE WITH CHICKEN LEGS BY SOPHIE ANDERSON

Marinka dreams of a normal life, where her house stays in one place long enough for her to make friends. But her house has chicken legs and moves on without warning. For Marinka’s grandmother is Baba Yaga, who guides spirits between this world and the next. Marinka longs to change her destiny and sets out to break free from her grandmother’s footsteps, but her house has other ideas…

Description by the author

At first i didn’t think this book would impress me so much because the cover and the title looked childish but then i thought, why not give it a go?

I must admit, at first, i was doubting this book and for a few chapters I wondered where the hook was. However,  I was really glad that I persisted because this turned out to be the best book i read in a few months.

The book starts off with twelve-year-old Marinka, granddaughter of the Yaga, longing for a normal life instead of the magical one she’s inherited.  Her world is confined to the house boundaries as she trains to become the future Guardian of the Gate between the living and the dead. She must obey complicated rules and perform the correct rituals much to her dismay.  Although Yaga, the house and her pet jackdaw keep her company,  Marinka craves human friendship and an existence without responsibility.  The last thing she wants to do is become the next Yaga. So she starts to rebel.

Description by me

Loosely based on the Slavic myth of Baba Yaga, Marinka’s story is magical, delightfully macabre and utterly engrossing. Skilful storytelling reimagines ancient folklore while addressing issues such as bullying, bereavement and taking control of your future. We accompany Marinka on a journey through different landscapes and situations which force her to examine every facet of her life. Nothing is as easy or predictable as she thinks.  Just as in real life, her encounters and realisations are full of twists. Some are happy, some are cruel – there’s often no clear cut solution. I also loved the way that the universe expands so that by the time you turn the last page you feel as if you witnessed a glimpse of something epic. It has slow sections that’s for sure so if you like your plot fast and furious then this won’t be for you, but if you enjoy considered fantasy with heart then this is one to try. And don’t just take my word for it, the book has been nominated for several awards including the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019 and the Blue Peter Book Awards 2019.

Sophie Anderson grew up with stories in her blood, from her mother, who is a writer, to her Prusian grandmother, who’s own storytelling inspired The House with Chicken Legs. Now living in the Lake District with her family, Sophie loves walking, canoeing and daydreaming. She spends every spare minute reading, and loves to talk about books online, offline and to anyone who will listen. Sophie’s dream is to create stories that help children to explore the world and fall in love with its beautiful diversity.

About Sophie Anderson from the book.

If you would indulge me for a brief moment – her are the seven stages of grief that I found within The House With Chicken Legs:

Shock

Marinka is shocked that the situation has happened, all consuming panic that she is now alone, devastation sets in about what is now expected of her.

Denial

Marinka continually believes that Baba Yaga will be coming back. Refusing to take up her new role as guardian – which causes the house to get sick. Many conversations with Old Yaga spring to mind here.

Anger

Marinka is angry at the whole situation and very angry that she has been forced into becoming a guardian; she didn’t ask for this and now it’s been forced upon her. She is so angry that she refuses to help guide the spirits – which has drastic consequences for the house and herself.

Bargaining

She begins to start bargaining with the house, saying if it will let her go off and make friends she will come back and help guide the dead and help the house get better, tricking the house into allowing her to do what she wants – manipulating the situation to fit her own needs.

Depression

When realisation sets in Marinka goes on a downward spiral, things don’t work out with her new friends, her life is falling apart, she doesn’t want to do anything and now is resigned to having to guide the dead against her will.

Testing

Marinka begins testing herself, searching and trying to do more than she is capable…she begins testing the boundaries of her abilities and the relationship she has with the house – trying to force her way into the gateway and recover Baba Yaga.

Acceptance

The Anderson wraps this all up with acceptance and the peace and hope that comes with such a decision.

The whole thing is bloody marvellous – it is a rarity to find so much hidden depth in a middle grade book, but this is written in such an engaging way, it’s like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I believe that The House With Chicken Legs is not like any other book, it influences your present and your future!

THE END


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