Sunday, January 15, 2023

Thistlefoot by GennaRose Nethercott


A strange notification comes to Ballatine Yaga.  She has an inheritance in common with her brother Issac that has come from their ancestral home in Russia.  What could it be?  She hasn't seen Issac in many years since he ran away from home when he was sixteen.  Can he even be located?  He hit the road, becoming a con artist and street performer.  His specialty is becoming other people and after he studies someone he can mimic them to perfection.  Ballatine is a woodworker and she has built a life around her craft, artists her friends.

When Ballentine shows up at the warehouse she was told to come to, Issac is there waiting.  They don't have much time for a reunion once they see their inheritance.  It is a house, a house that is obviously old.  But what wasn't obvious is that the house has two chicken legs and can walk.  Issac wants to sell it immediately but Ballentine is determined to restore it.

As the two start to work on the house, they begin to have flashbacks and dreams about the house and what it represented.  It has been passed down to them by their Baba Yaga, the only survivor of a pogrom against the Jewish village she lived in by Russian soldiers.  The pogrom is almost forgotten except for the descendants of Baba Yaga.  The fact that the story wasn't destroyed brings to America a shadowy figure known as the Longshadow Man.  He is determined to destroy the house and all remembrances of the horror it represents.  He is ready for a pitched battle unless Issac and Ballantine can put aside their differences, resolve their family issues and unite to defeat him.

This is a lovely book that I absolutely adored.  It is a retold family tale that hides under its charm the reality of a horrific event that occurred often in Russia and Europe against those of the Jewish faith.  It is also an exploration of sibling love and of friendships that can endure whatever is thrown at them.  Both Issac and Ballentine have magical powers that they don't really understand but must explore in order to have any hope of defeating the Longshadow Man.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers. 

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