I was delighted to be asked to share with you last month the cover reveal for Sophie Anderson’s incredible debut ‘The House With Chicken Legs’ and it received the most amazing response. This exquisite cover has been designed by Katharine Millichope at Usborne, and illustrated by the brilliant Melissa Castrillón and it just gives you a tiny hint about how beautiful and extraordinary the story is that lies inside. I had a feeling that this book was going to be truly special but nothing quite prepared me for this haunting and heart-breaking tale that I would be emotionally tied to long after reading. Sophie is a born storyteller, she has taken the Russian folk tale Baba Yaga and cleverly weaved the most dark and delicate words to create a truly bewitching tale.
Marinka’s greatest desire is to lead a normal life. A life where she will wake up in the morning in the same place where she went to sleep, a place where she could settle and make friends. But sadly that’s not to be! She lives with her grandmother, Baba Yaga in a house with chicken legs, which without warning will get up and move on. Her grandmother’s is the guardian of the house and must help guide the dead through The Gate, which in turn will be Marinka’s destiny. How does it feel to be destined to a future role that you desperately don’t want and can you possibly change your path which seems so determinedly laid out before you. Follow Marinka as she travels across the globe, between this world and the next, as she struggles against the restraints that hold her bound to this inevitable fate.
It’s incredibly difficult to describe just how much I love ‘The House With Chicken Legs,’ it really is an emotional rollercoaster of a read that left me breathless. Sophie has created so many heart-stopping, desperately sad moments but then has sprinkled deftly seeds of hope and joy throughout allowing, the reader like Marinka to dream of an better future. The characterisation is superb, Marinka is strong and brave but flawed and fragile at the same time as she contends with the demands of the house and the expectations of her people. Her inexhaustible desire to make connections with people who are alive and real is so painful to watch but we know that she has to find her own way in the world and learn from her mistakes. The bond between Marinka and her grandmother is unbreakable despite being tested to the very limits and it just filled my heart with so much warmth and happiness. Even the house demonstrates it’s hold and desire over Marinka’s life, it doesn’t just stand up and walk away it rallies against her desire to be true to herself and Sophie captures this brilliantly with it’s outlandish behaviour. Stunningly told and superbly written this has to be one of the most accomplished debuts I have had the pleasure to read. A truly unforgettable story that will stay with me forever.
Thank you to Usborne for sending me a copy of this glorious book. ‘The House With Chicken Legs’ is released on 5th April and is available to pre-order now online or from any good bookshop.