The Door by the Staircase

The Door by the Staircase 
By: Katherine Marsh 


Release Date: January 5. 2016
Pages: 288
Age Range: 8 and up 

The Story 
Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes can't stand her orphanage for another night. But when an attempted escape through the stove pipe doesn't go quite as well as she'd hoped, Mary fears she'll be stuck in the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies forever. 

The very next day, a mysterious woman named Madame Z appears at the orphanage requesting to adopt Mary, and the matron's all too happy to get the girl off her hands. Soon, Mary is fed a hearty meal, dressed in a clean, new nightgown and shown to a soft bed with blankets piled high. She can hardly believe she isn't dreaming!

But when Mary begins to explore the strange nearby town with the help of her new friend, Jacob, she learns a terrifying secret about Madame Z's true identity.  

Madame Z is the historically terrify Baba Yaga. 

If Mary's not careful, her new home might just turn into a nightmare.

Story synopsis provided by Amazon 


I liked learning about the Russian Folklore that is sprinkled throughout this book. Marsh does a wonderful job of creating a creepy and yet  magical story line. It can be slow at times, but if you hang in there, you will be rewarded with a fantastic story. I especially enjoyed the twist at the end. It reminded me a great deal of Neil Gainman's Coraline. I think it reminded me of this book in regards to the parallel magical world. I would highly recommend paring this book  with a non-fiction book on Russian and Slavic Folklore or on Baba Yaga herself. If you have this history, it will help to make the story more enjoyable. 


This isn't for the faint of heart. It is definitely creepy. My biggest concern is finding an audience for this book. Even though it was beautifully crafted, I am not sure who to book talk this book to.  Perhaps if it is marketed as a magical fantasy story? 


I am seeing more and more books with Baba Yaga as a central character. In the publishing world, I  think this has become a trend. Although I did find it interesting, I wouldn't recommend it to everyone. 

Baba Yaga

Here are some resources about the origins of Baba Yaga:

Baba-Yaga flying

If you like this book, you might like: 

- Pamela 

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