This is a rich, beautiful story that feels like historical fiction set in medieval Russian with strong flavors of old fairytale magic and romance. I was familiar with Vasilisa from an old Baba Yaga story, but Farb’s Vasilisa is a living, breathing, heroic young woman for whom I immediately felt a strong empathy. She is an inspiring fictional heroine! The plot was full of surprises and SO difficult to put aside the book! The extras at the back were fun, too. I highly recommend this book!
- Katy Huth Jones, author of the YA-fantasy series He Who Finds Mercy
I couldn’t put this book down! … Vasilisa is such an engaging and interesting character that I was swept into her narrative. Stopping to take care of other responsibilities was difficult, and the story would run through my mind the whole time until I could get back to the book… My only complaint is that the book ended. The author’s prose is beautiful, the imagery spellbinding. I can’t wait until the next book!
- Amy Klaus, author of Royals of Andorvia
I absolutely loved this book! What a great tale of adventure, love, and courage. It’s almost more historical fiction than fantasy, so fans of either genre (or of Russian mythology) are sure to enjoy it. The characters are vivid and distinct, the settings clearly described, and the plot gripping. I highly recommend this story (and everything else by this author)!
- Annie Douglass Lima, author of the Annals of Alasia and the Krillonian Chronicles
I loved this, and enjoyed the rich story telling and seamless weave of Russian folklore and historical fiction that mashes the fantasy and historical genres in a magical way! Readers of either genre can easily enjoy this story, and it’s so unique and well done, that likely even readers who don’t read much fantasy/historical fiction would enjoy it! The characters are original, complex, and unforgettable, and I loved it! There’s romance and action, struggles both internal and external, Fae and fantastic writing to bring it all together. If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out M. L. Farb’s other books!
- Stephanie, Books Less Travelled Reviews
M.L. Farb is such an amazing storyteller. The adventures she tells are so poetic and powerful and beautiful, despite the struggles her characters face. Vasilisa is an incredible story of overcoming one’s past, sacrificing for love, and finding strength within. This is a beautiful story full of adventure readers will be sure to love!
- Kimberly King, author of The Trouble with Fairy Godmothers
This incredible novel tells of a young woman who finds herself while protecting those she loves. Called evil by others, now she proves her skills of trickery and deception can also be used for good… Farb labels her books YA, but adults will love Vasilisa as much as any other fantasy book. Public unrest, self-discovery, war, romance, and the choice to be good or evil pack these pages.
- Kameo Monson, author of When Love is Lost
I can’t stress enough how much I loved this book. It’s a sweet, innocent romance with fantasy and magic, as well as history and adventure. I love it when books can combine genres like this. Top it all off with a strong female leading character who is easy to love and support, and you have one of the best books I have read all year.
- Official Review from onlinebookclub.org
Vasilisa was a delightful read, filled with vibrant scenery, detailed characters, and plenty of adventure! Farb has an excellent grasp of utilising the senses to enrich the story and deepen reader immersion. I felt all of Vasilisa’s emotions as she experienced them, and rooted for her as she faced her enemies with cunning, strength, and determination. Every time she was knocked down, she rose again, and her steadfast nature is what makes her so engaging! Her connections with the other characters in this tale are what drives her to face adversity time after time, and when she loses faith in herself, they are her restoration. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale, with its twists and turns, beautifully written prose, and compelling characters. I look forward to seeing which story is next in line for the ‘Hearth and Bard Tales’.
M.L Farb has a lovely writing style and she has really brought this old Russian tale to life. Vasilisa is hugely likeable. The story is well plotted and the characters are well thought out. Unlike the majority of fairy tale heroines, Vasilisa has all the elements of the modern independent woman and is therefore very relatable. Another great work from an excellent author.
- Rukshy Ng
Captivating. I was 100% captivated by this book! I had no desire to put it down. The characters are so intriguing and the story telling was rich. I was transported more into the story with each page. I felt joy, sadness and everything in between. You will fall in love with Vasilisa and cheer her on to the final pages. I can’t wait for more stories from the Bard!
- Charity Peterson
A beautiful fairy tale woven with history and lore of Russia, this is a story that has a Cinderella-like heroine who falls in love with a man of higher class. Their love endures many trials of war and injury, and some surprises neither expected. Who couldn’t fall in love with Staver, who loves Vasilisa with all his heart and fights for her in spite of the fact that he is a musician, not a warrior? I loved this book! It is an adventure not to be missed!
- Betty Reynolds
I loved this book, from the bard framing to the exotic Russian settings. Vasilisa is a retelling of a classic Russian fairy tale. Vasilisa starts out as a misfit teen, a servant on a wealthy estate, who longs to return to her half-remembered home in the forest. Through a series of exciting adventures, she learns the truth about what – and who – she really is. I absolutely recommend it, especially for teen girls who love adventure, romance, and who know a thing or two about not fitting in.
- Kristin Schill
An amazing YA fantasy book, with plenty of action, adventure, romance and rich in russian myths and folklore. I love how the book starts and ends with the bard opening and closing the story and making a promise for another story to come. The whole narrative has an old-fairytale-like quality. It reminded me of when I was a kid and my grandmother told me folk tales just before going to bed. I’m anxiously waiting for the next story. Where will M.L. Farb take us next?
The moment the bard started to speak in the 1st chapter I knew I was hooked. Now I just finished reading “Vasilisa” and WOW! IT WAS AMAZING! The bard was cool and mysterious, Staver was rather dashing without being pig headed, and Vasilisa was a great heroine (just enough faults to make her relatable/realistic but still so amazing!) with a very cool character arch. I loved how her dad plays into the story. And just so many other things loved! I really hope this series makes it into physical books because I just want to curl up by by the fire with this one.
I enjoyed the author’s imagery throughout the tale, such as, “My worried thoughts fell into the snow behind me. I’d pick them up when I returned.” and, “I closed my eyes again to feel the way of the dreams, and a memory burst into color.” Also, there were several quotable lines, such as, “Keep feeding the good within you. Do not let despair eat you.’” and, “I panicked. I let my emotions guide my words. . . . I said what I shouldn’t. Now I’ll say what I should.” A very satisfying story with several unexpected twists and turns.
If you love clean YA fantasy and folklore, you’ll certainly want to read Vasilisa. As a strong female character, she shines in this tale and learns a great deal about herself in the process. I loved her determination and her strength; I also loved the endearing affections between her and Staver. The cultural elements and food for thought questions at the end of the book were quite a treat, and I enjoyed learning more about the origin of this story.
- Erin Dydek (Goodreads)