Author: Olesya Salnikova Gilmore
Released: September 20, 2022
You guys know that I’m a sucker for mythology stories. Better yet, I love trying new authors, so when I saw The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore, I knew I had to give it a chance. Did I mention that this is a retelling of Baba Yaga? Yes, please!
Baga Yaga’s story has been told many times in many ways. Here, she is a half-goddess full of magic. She infamously lives in a hut in the woods, trying to avoid people (and the cause of all her pain). Yet even she can’t ignore the pleas from her sick friend, Anastasia.
Anastasia is the wife of the tsar, and she is very ill. It’s the sort of thing that only Baba Yaga may be able to deal with. Only…things are much more complex, and it turns out that the illness has a very human source.
I have always been fascinated by tales of Baba Yaga, so when I was promised a retelling of her story with a few unique twists, I couldn’t wait to dive into it! The Witch and the Tsar is a magical and sometimes dark tale, portraying a slightly more human version of the character we all know, love, and fear.
Admittedly, the Baba Yaga in this tale is not the one I was expecting. I was fine with it, as it was clearly Olesya Salnikova Gilmore’s interpretation of the character. But staunch fans (and folklorists) may be upset about the deviations. So do consider yourself warned.
The thing I loved the most about The Witch and the Tsar is that it gave Baga Yaga a voice. So often, I feel like characters like this are shuffled into tropes (in folklore) and not allowed to explore deeper concepts. So this was very much a refreshing change.
There were plenty of elements to appreciate in this novel, magic, politics, emotional twists, etc. I can’t comment on the historical accuracy (I’m trash at remembering historical facts, sorry), but I did enjoy The Witch and the Tsar.
Thanks to Ace and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.