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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

All 12-year-old Marinka wants is a friend. A real friend. Not like her house with chicken legs. Sure, the house can play games like tag and hide-and-seek, but Marinka longs for a human companion. Someone she can talk to and share secrets with. But that's tough when your grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It's even harder when you live in a house that wanders all over the world . . . carrying you with it. Even worse, Marinka is being trained to be a Yaga. That means no school, no parties -- and no playmates that stick around for more than a day. So when Marinka stumbles across the chance to make a real friend, she breaks all the rules . . . with devastating consequences. Her beloved grandmother mysteriously disappears, and it's up to Marinka to find her -- even if it means making a dangerous journey to the afterlife. With a mix of whimsy, humor, and adventure, this debut novel will wrap itself around your heart and never let go.…

The House With Chicken Legs

by Sophie Anderson

Overall Book Review:

A whimsical, yet somewhat macabre novel about death, the afterlife, and destiny. Sophie Anderson’s debut novel, The House with Chicken Legs, is an enjoyable read that is beautifully written and makes one think of what destiny really means for all involved. It seems to be based on a Russian folk tale, with a Tim Burton-esque twist as it uses the Russian terms of ‘Baba’ and ‘Yaga’ as well as the names and affinity for Russian food, yet there is a house that walks on chicken legs and bones that keep away the living. 

As Marinka struggles with what she has been told is her destiny, that of guiding the dead to the afterlife through The Gate, she yearns for a normal life and real connections to living people. The Gate is situated in a house that moves from place to place on chicken-like legs, never staying in one place too long. Marinka will do anything to connect with real people and a real life, even making some bad choices along the way that have some severe consequences. As she learns from these choices, she comes to realize the beauty in it all and learns to accept her destiny on her own terms.

Anderson does a beautiful job in describing the hard realities of death and what happens after. She even puts into words the struggles people might have in letting go as Marinka questions her job. Surely this is a novel that will appeal to those that have experienced the death of a loved one, as well as those that like the whimsical (all be it somewhat serious) take on death and the role we play in it.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic Press (A Scholastic Imprint)

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: None 

Violence/Gore:  Person pushes a beggar on the street down.

Sex/Nudity:  None

Mature Subject Matter:

Death; death of parents.

Alcohol / Drug Use:


Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I remember as a young girl sneaking out of my bedroom to read by the hall light my parents left on, just so I could finish an exciting book. I’ve always loved books and reading is somewhat of a passion for me–something I’m passing on to my kids. I have four children and I have a hard time making them turn out the light when they say, “But I just got to the good part”.