I placed my hand on the cover of the book, now finished. Gregory Maguire won’t know that I have cherished his eccentric narrator or felt Elena’s hunger and shared Anton’s wanderlust, but that hardly matters. Elena, Anton, Cat, Baba Yaga, even Peter Petrovich and his naming of the days will stay in my memory like a well-kept secret.
A train traveling along rarely used tracks brings more than its share of trouble and adventure for Elena Rudina of Miersk and Ekaterina Ivanovna de Robichaux, Cat as she is known in London. The girls swap lives accidentally. Elena enjoys her first real meal while Cat suffers the inhospitality of the jealous poor and finds herself trapped in Baba Yaga’s house, an izba that stands on chicken legs. Baba Yaga believes the world needs saving and she must present her concerns to the Tsar, so off to Saint Petersburg the house begins to walk, while Cat hopes to meet Elena along the way and save her Great Aunt the worry of where she has gone. Elena, pretending to be Cat, is traveling to Saint Petersburg to meet the godson of the Tsar, Anton, at a ball thrown in his honor.
Is the Firebird dead? Why has the spring thaw come so early? Will Baba Yaga eat Cat as she has the children in the fairy tales?
So many questions and so many answers. I loved this book from cover to cover, including the dedication to Maurice Sendak in the back. Though written for twelve and over, this is a story that can be enjoyed no matter your age.