Egg and Spoon

Age Range
Release Date
September 09, 2014
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Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. One of her brothers has been conscripted into the Tsar’s army, the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food. But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg — a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena’s age. When the two girls’ lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and — in a starring role only Gregory Maguire could have conjured — Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs.

Editor review

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Folklore at Its Finest
Overall rating
Writing Style
In Egg and Spoon, Gregory Maguire creates a modern folk tale completely drenched in the mystery and beauty of Russian tradition. Taking elements of Russian folklore and twisting in elements of The Prince and the Pauper, Egg and Spoon breaks all traditions and puts a brand new twist on the Fairy Tale Reboot genre. The story centers around two young girls: a city girl borne of privilege and a country girl suffocating under the weight of poverty and loss. Their lives crisscross and collide with unforeseen consequences.
The story is narrated by a monk, imprisoned by the Tsar for a crime left unrevealed until near the end of the novel. Throughout the novel the reader is unsure how reliable his story telling is- but his side comments and observations make for an incredible read. The disclaimer in the beginning of the book sets the entire tone of the book.
One of the best parts of the book is Maguire’s world building. This is a world seeped in magic and superstitions. In this world dragons sleep in ice, dolls might come to life, and houses might be able to walk away. It is a world where Baba Yaga, a famous witch from Russian folk lore known for scaring children, lives and prospers. She may be a little unhinged at times, but she definitely moves the plot along.
Maguire’s writing is masterful as always. This is the type of book that can appeal not only to middle school readers but to adults as well. I love his use of language and the allusions to literature, society, and art. The use of strong female characters also makes this book unique. Not only is strength seen in the main characters but also in the women they meet along the way.
Things that left me wanting more? While the plot moves along quickly for most of the book, in the middle it began to drag. There seemed to be a lack in action but this quickly changed in the last section of the story.
Overall, it was worth plotting through to get to the ending. Despite this, the book is well worth reading. Any reader who is a fan of rebooted fairy tales, folk lore, and fantasy will find Egg and Spoon to be one of the best reads this year.

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