REVIEW: “Baba Yaga: Her Story” by Jill Marie Ross

Review of Jill Marie Ross, “Baba Yaga: Her Story”, in Skull & Pestle: New Tales of Baba Yaga, edited by Kate Wolford (World Weaver Press, 2019): 47-77 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

In this long short story — long enough to nearly be a novelette, long enough to take up almost an entire bath time before the water grows cold — Ross spins out an origin story for Baba Yaga. Who is she, what was she like as a child, how did she get to be how she is? It’s richly detailed, weaving in many other Russian and Slavic mythic elements, and deeply satisfying.

The one thing that put me off a bit was the use of parenthetical glosses for the assorted Slavic phrases dotted here and there. First, these glosses were inconsistent; some foreign words were not glossed. Second, some of the foreign words seemed unnecessary, e.g., why call the oven pech instead of ‘oven’. Third, while I love seeing foreign words and phrases incorporated into a story, I’d rather see them used in a such a way that their meaning is clear from context, so that they don’t need to be glossed. But this is only a minor point.