Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dreaming Anistasia By Joy Preble

Dreaming Anastasia

Sixteen year old Anne thinks her life is pretty ordinary – until she smacks into handsome, mysterious, and okay, annoying Ethan on her way to chemistry class. Now Anne has powers she doesn’t understand, a history altering mission she may not want, and a growing attraction to this blue-eyed stranger. And Ethan- who at eighteen made some choices he’s starting to regret – realizes that Anne is the girl for whom he’s been searching – for a very, very long time. Stir in doomed Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia – who is definitely not quite as dead as the history books say – and Baba Yaga, the legendary witch from Russian folklore, and you’ve got DREAMING ANASTASIA, a contemporary YA fantasy that alternates between the voices of Anne, Ethan, and Anastasia as Anne and Ethan join forces to battle the bad guys and save Anastasia. Only problem is – no one’s quite sure who’s really bad and who’s good. And everyone has some secrets.

CLICK HERE to see the book trailer video.

After Reading Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox and years ago reading (and enjoying) The Wake Trilogy by Lisa McMann it was hard for me to resist another book about twisting Dreams.  This one really caught my attention since it also threw in a fabulous historical mystery, what happened to Anastasia. 

The Good:  The story was original mix, you also didn't have to know about Baba Yaga (which I didn't) or Anastasia to follow the plot.  The Bad:  The characters themselves are far from original, Anne reads much like a Bella and Ethan might as well be an Edward.  I understand that this is a YA and that light romance is really popular but some more time spend on developing more interesting characters would have been nice.

The Good:  It is an easy read and written in a way that keeps you reading.  The Bad:  It is written from three different points of view, which isn't really a problem but sometimes the voice was so similar I had to go check who I was reading.  Also Anastasia's portion was not nearly as developed as Anne or Ethans (but then again she wasn't really a main character)

Overall I give this one 3 1/2 stars and plan on finishing the series. 

Since I had never heard of Baba Yaga I decided to do some research at the library to learn more.  I found a gorgeous picture book, Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave As told by Marianna Mayer and Illustrated by K.Y. Craft

This beautiful picture book relates one of the many stories of Baba Yaga the witch, and Vasilisa. The author offers no explanation about the source, but other retellings support it. Baba Yaga lives in the forest, in her house with chicken legs and her favorite food is human flesh. Vasilisa is a young orfan girl left to the care of her evil stepmother and her stepsisters. Vasilisa did chores and every menial task, her only comfort was a doll sewn by her mother that she always kept close to her. One night, their candle goes out and they are all unable to light a single light; so the stepmother sends Vasilisa to ask Baba Yaga for a light. Reluctantly, Vasilisa goes, but she is soon soothed by her doll, who tells her what to do. In the forest, she sees a white stallion and rider, then red stallion and rider and at last, when night fell again a black horse and rider. She soon approaches Baba Yaga’s fence of bones; the witch discovers her and tells her to come inside. When Vasilisa asks for the light, Baba Yaga tells her that she must work for her first. Baba Yaga tells her to cook and clean, each time a harder job than before, but each night as Vasilisa seems to be ready to fall, exhausted, her doll takes over the job. In the morning, everything is as Baba Yaga has commanded. She cooks a feast, separates the wheat from the chaff, washes, and cleans. Baba Yaga is surprised, but gives Vasilisa a harder job still: to find a lost needle in one of the haystacks and remove the dust from the poppy seeds. The doll helps again and Baba Yaga is finally satisfied with Vasilisa and lets her go, giving her the needed light, also she tells her that the riders are the daybreak, the red sun and the night knights. Then Vasilisa confesses how she was able to do the work. Baba Yaga does not like the answer, since she abhors anything to do with love. Baba Yaga gives Vasilisa the light in a skull and tells her not to forget to give it to her step mother. Vasilisa starts back to her house and she arrives at midnight. To her surprise, her family has been in a magical night ever since Vasilisa left; when Vasilisa gives them the light, the skull comes to life and engulfs them in fire, where they die. Vasilisa moves to town, finds a kind woman to live with and begins threading cloth, she does such a fine job that soon the tsar’s men purchase some of her cloth for the tsar. The tsar falls in love at first sight and marries Vasilisa, who always kept her doll close.

There were many similarities between other classic Fairy Tales which I guess is to be expected, this seemed like a Russian version of Cinderella but instead of a fairy godmother Vasilisa had a doll that helped her.  If you are at all interested I highly suggest getting this children's book, it is gorgeous!  Reading it didn't add anything to Dreaming Anastasia but I am still glad I took the time to look into it. 

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