Into the Forest by Lindy Ryan (editor) – Review

A collection of new and exclusive short stories inspired by the Baba Yaga. Featuring Gwendolyn Kiste, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Mercedes M. Yardley, Monique Snyman, Donna Lynch, Lisa Quigley, and R. J. Joseph, with a foreword by Christina Henry. Deep in the dark forest, in a cottage that spins on birds’ legs behind a fence topped with human skulls, lives the baba yaga. A guardian of the water of life, she lives with her sisters and takes to the skies in a giant mortar and pestle, creating tempests as she goes. Those who come across the baba yaga may find help, or hinderance, or horror. She is wild, she is woman, she is witch—and these are her tales.

Edited by Lindy Ryan, this collection brings together some of today’s leading voices of women-in-horror as they pay tribute to the baba yaga, and go Into the Forest.

Thank you so much to Black Spot Books and Netgalley for the eARC of this horrifically inviting anthology series starring the Baba Yaga. I am currently playing Wild Beyond the Witchlight, a Wizards of the Coast Dungeons and Dragons adventure, and it features Baba Yaga and her daughters quite heavily. As such, I was already excited to dive into all of these stories, but I had no idea the creativity and magic I’d find between the pages. Each story was a completely unique look into the witch, the grandmother, the crone that is Baba Yaga. 

Every girl is born with teeth and with claws. Society demands that we trim the latter and hide the former, and as such, we are stripped of our ferocity. Baba Yaga is a cautionary tale because she was able to escape; keeping her feral nature and becoming a figurehead of horrific deeds– likely due to those who cannot handle unbridled female spirit. However, there are many sides to the Baba Yaga– and those are all displayed beautifully in this collection of stories. We do see the child-eating, soul-stealing, and ruthless woman whose ugly exterior matches her blackened insides. We also see the matronly savior of wayward girls, the voice of the forest, and the reluctant harbinger of doom.

Every side of a lady, stunning or frightening, can be found while reading Into the Forest. It is not just a deep dive into the fairy tale of Baba Yaga, but into womanhood. We are all Baba Yaga in our own ways– just waiting to run into the forest and never come back. I loved these tales, told by women and for all those that care to heed the cautionary tales of not respecting the fairer sex. Each story was lovingly chosen and readers will be able to see the heart that went into crafting each one. I very much recommend this book, both as a woman myself and as a horror aficionado. You will fall in love with Baba Yaga’s sharp grin and clawed embrace.

5/5 stars

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