The Dream Stealer
By Gregory Maguire
Hardcover, 132 pages
2002, Clarion Books
The Blood Prince, a deadly, mythical wolf with the power to steal souls, is on the move once more and is rumored to be headed for the small village of Miersk. When friends Pasha and Lisette see a rare firebird, it sets them off on a quest to find the witch Baba Yaga and hopefully save their village from the Blood Prince.
This little novella combines elements from the Russian folktales of Baba Yaga, the Firebird and Vasilissa the Beautiful – none of which I’ve read, so I can’t speak to Maguire’s interpretation of them. However, I can say this is a well-crafted tale and it felt like folklore, even if I wasn’t familiar with the parts.
The characters were fun, especially Baba Yaga, who is eccentric, hideous and dangerous, yet devotes a good deal of her time and resources to helping the two young children and their village. Despite the short page count, Baba Yaga makes a pretty loveable anti-hero. The friendship between the children is cute too.
I enjoyed the fantastical elements in the story as well as the way Maguire wove several tales into one seamless reimagining.
It’s a short story so I won’t say much more than that, but it is suitable for younger readers and fans of fairy/folk tales.
Also, I love the details in the chapter headers:
You can visit Gregory’s website here.