Fieldmouse Books

Natalie Fieldhouse, Independent Usborne Organiser


Book Review - The House With Chicken Legs

25th April 2018

Travel to the mystical world of the Yaga, in this magical reimaging of the Russian folk tale of Baba Yaga.

Marinka lives in a house with chicken legs. Two or three times a year, and quite without warning, the house will pick itself up in the middle of the night, and walk far away to a new location.

Her only companions are her grandmother, Baba Yaga, and her jackdaw, Jack. Unless you count the dead of course. When the candles are lit, they come to be guided through The Gate by Baba Yaga, and Marinka knows that in time, this duty will be hers to burden. When she was younger she used to love imagining what their lives were like, but now she is twelve she wants more from her sheltered life.

Every day, Marinka rebuilds the wall of bones around the house that keep the living out, and welcome the dead in, and every day she wonders about a life beyond the bones. Until she meets Benjamin.

Benjamin is a real-life boy, and represents the wealth of opportunities of the outside world. He shows Marinka what her life could be like, unrestricted by the dead and the wall of bones. In him, she finally feels like she has a friend of her own, and not just another soul to be guided through The Gate. But the house has other ideas, and after just two short weeks it gallops away to another location, leaving Benjamin far behind.

Desperate for a friend she can hold onto, Marinka plays with the order of life, and when the candles are next lit to welcome the dead, she prevents a young girl (Nina) from going through The Gate. But Marinka learns the hard way that death can't be reversed, and when Baba is forced to take Nina though The Gate, Marinka realises that you can't control fate.

In and amongst the end of life and the souls of the dead, Marinka must find what it truly means to be alive. As the house journeys from place to place, she must learn what it means to be human, and what she really wants from her time on the living side of The Gate.

This is a story of self-discovery, and of learning to value each little thing that you have. It is an adventure that takes us across the globe, from barren deserts, to stormy seas, to peaceful meadows, and reminds us about the beauty of the world that we live in.

The House With Chicken Legs is an utterly captivating read. It reminded us of all the magic of Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree Stories combined with all the beauty of a collection of poetry. It's sure to become a timeless classic of the future, and we were completely entranced by it from start to finish.

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