When Baba Yaga offers to give you your heart’s desire, you should really think twice about accepting. Summer, the absurdly sheltered protagonist of Ursula Vernon’s new novel Summer in Orcus, encounters the witch and lands in a dangerous fantasy world. And you can read all about it for free online.
Hugo Award-winning cartoonist and author Ursula Vernon is nothing if not versatile. She’s given us the hilarious (and sometimes sober) webcomic epic Digger, children’s books like the Dragonbreath and the Hamster Princess series, and haunting short stories like “Jackalope Wives” and “The Sea Witch Sets the Record Straight.”
Lately, under the pseudonym T. Kingfisher, Vernon has been releasing fairy tale-insipred books for older readers. (Personally, I recently read and very much enjoyed The Seventh Bride.) Her latest T. Kingfisher book is Summer in Orcus, and here’s how she describes it:
When the witch Baba Yaga walks her house into the backyard, eleven-year-old Summer enters into a bargain for her heart’s desire. Her search will take her to the strange, surreal world of Orcus, where birds talk, women change their shape, and frogs sometimes grow on trees. But underneath the whimsy of Orcus lies a persistent darkness, and Summer finds herself hunted by the monstrous Houndbreaker, who serves the distant, mysterious Queen-in-Chains…
The first two chapters are already up, and there will be two new updates each week. So far, it’s great fun, introducing us to Summer, a girl who is being smothered by her mother’s love and fear when Baba Yaga shows up in her famous house.