I rather envy Sophie Anderson her grandmother. Without that grandmother, we wouldn’t have had this quirkily titled debut novel, The House with Chicken Legs. But I can see that even without this marvellous story, Sophie’s Prussian grandmother would still be worth having. She was the one who brought with her, as one of very few belongings, a book of fairytales as she left Europe after WWII to settle in Wales, which is where she introduced Sophie to Baba Yaga.
A house that moves, and on chicken legs no less, felt vaguely off-putting at first. And I’ve never been sure of this Baba Yaga person. But I also knew I needed to read the book.
It’s a story about 12-year-old Marinka who lives with her grandmother, Baba Yaga, in this odd house, where they help guide the dead to the other side. Because of the house moving whenever it feels like it, Marinka doesn’t go to school and she has no friends. It’s really this which makes for the problems. Marinka wants to be normal, but her grandmother has omitted telling her one very pertinent fact that makes the girl even less normal than you’d think. (No, I’m not telling you!)
In a way this is your traditional tale of a child who wants something very much, disobeys old rules, causing something unexpected, and worse, to happen, and having to learn to live with the consequences.
I never expected to grow fond of a house. Especially not one with chicken legs. But when it…
Well, I’m not saying any more.
This is a warm and different story about finding yourself, and also about standing firm when you feel you must do something a bit different.
And all that food! I blame Sophie’s grandmother.