The Door by the Staircase by Katherine Marsh

I guarantee The Door by the Staircase will make you hungry for two things: Russian food and good old-fashioned fairy tales. The first is an odd thing to say about a book about Baba Yaga, the Russian witch who eats children, but it’s true. Our heroine Mary is always eating such wonderful things. It hardly matters that we know the witch is trying to fatten her up!

This book, like a good dinner has all the right fixings: a brave orphan, a witch who eats children, a villain you won’t see coming, a cast of odd and likable characters and plenty of magic. It even has a talking cat! The table is set for an old-fashioned fairy tale, but Marsh adds more. Let’s call it spice that is so unexpected (like this story takes place in upstate New York not in Russia) it takes the story further.

Mary is an orphan who has been adopted by an old woman known only as Madame Z. She goes to live with her in an odd house on the outskirts of an even odder town that is full of magicians and fortunetellers. When Mary discovers who the old woman is she is tempted to run away but the stable hand tells her not to. The witch will only hunt her down, he says, but if she is brave enough to stay, the witch may take a liking to her.  Mary is brave, but not stupid. She be-friends the son of a magician and together they look for a way to save Mary. But things are not always what they seem. Mary will soon have to find a way to save the witch. If she succeeds, she will end up with true friendship and a real home.

With just enough suspense and danger to keep readers on the edge of their seats, magic and humor, this one is an instant classic. Well done! It is a must read.

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