Author: Various. Edited by Lindy Ryan. Introduction by Christina Henry
Title: Into the Forest
Publisher: Black Spot Books
Publication Date: Nov 8th 2022
Genre: Horror short stories
Buying link: Amazon
Disclaimer: I was given an Earc. I leave an honest review which is in no way influenced by the idea of a house with chicken feet. No siree.
A collection of new and exclusive short stories inspired by the Baba Yaga. Featuring Gwendolyn Kiste, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Mercedes M. Yardley, Monique Snyman, Donna Lynch, Lisa Quigley, and R. J. Joseph, with an introduction by Christina Henry.
Deep in the dark forest, in a cottage that spins on birds’ legs behind a fence topped with human skulls, lives the Baba Yaga. A guardian of the water of life, she lives with her sisters and takes to the skies in a giant mortar and pestle, creating tempests as she goes. Those who come across the Baba Baga may find help, hindrance, or horror. She is wild, she is a woman, she is a witch— and these are her tales.
Edited by Lindy Ryan, this collection brings together some of today’s leading voices of women in horror as they pay tribute to the Baba Yaga, and go Into the Forest.
Have you heard about Baba Yaga?
I will freely admit that I was in my late teens before I’d heard of the Eastern European Boogey-woman. Maybe because there are not too many forests around my area. Car parks, yes. Forests, no.
According to Slavik legend, Baba Yaga is a hideous creature, humanlike but with a huge crooked nose and iron teeth who may either hinder or help lost travellers. She is a witch, a sorceress, a maternal figure and someone who eats children- depending on which story you hear.
She flits around the forest on a mortar, wielding a pestle like a baton and lives in a hut on chicken legs.
Yep. Chicken legs.
In some stories, Baba Yaga is three sisters who dwell together as a maiden/mother/crone trio; in others, she is a single witch known as the Forest Mother.
In any case, she is a fascinating creation and the short stories in this compilation run the gamut of amusing, heart-breaking and gruesome. Each one is diverse in its interpretation of the legend and so there is something for everyone.
As it is a horror compilation there will, understandably, be some tales that are more macabre than others and I think the tale Sugar and Spice and the Old Witch’s Price by Lisa Quigly could probably use a trigger warning for a mother killing her children. Several of the stories include Baba Yaga capturing children and eating them, or in some cases, eating the parents who have sent their children into the woods to die.
In one of my favourites Stork Bites by E.V. Knight, the author takes the recent events of Roe V Wade and uses the legend of Baba Yaga to add a dark fantasy element to the desperation of a woman trying to get rid of a pregnancy. It was so relevant and brilliantly done that I had to take a few minutes afterwards to take it in.
Although many of the stories cast Baba Yaga as a villain, there is an equal number where she is a saviour of sorts. She rescues women abandoned in the forest, those in trouble or helps lonely travellers.
Some of the short stories are so beautiful they make you really feel for Baba Yaga and her situation. Mama Yaga by Christina Sng and Flood Zone by Donna Lynch were so lyrical that I wanted them to go on and on. I also wanted to read more about the Black Knight in Herald the Knight by Mercedes Yardley.
Overall I’d say that this was a wonderful anthology and has introduced me to some fantastic female horror writers. I’d highly recommend it to anyone at all but especially to those who love to curl up under a blanket and ignore the scratching at the door.
With Thanks to Netgalley, Black Crow Books and Black Crow PR for the Earc.