Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire

Title: Egg and Spoon
Author: Gregory Maguire
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Source:  ARC obtained at BEA, additional copy provided by publisher - thank you Candlewick!

Summary from Goodreads:
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


Egg and Spoon read like a children’s fairytale - filled with innocence and magic and possibility. After a case of mistaken identity, both Elena and Ekaterina, or Cat, embark on a grand adventure that carries them across Russia and up to the North Pole in the hope of saving their country. The world is completely fantastical, with many legends from Russian folklore come to life along the way, including Baba Yaga, the Firebird, the Ice Dragon and. In fact, Egg & Spoon was infused with Russian culture, which I absolutely loved. It was a wonderful feeling to be at the whim of Gregory Maguire’s imagination and to not know what surprises lay on the next page. Truly, anything could happen, and many things did.

The characters in this book just shine. Egg and Spoon alternates POVs between Elena and Cat and both girls were easy to take to. Elena is from a tragic and humble background, whereas Cat comes from privilege but her life is far from perfect. The contrast between the two created an interesting dynamic, especially when they traded places. But both girls possessed a youthful selfishness that they needed to grow out of, which I am glad to say they did by the end of the book.

The real stars were the secondary characters – all of whom added their own personal touch to the story. But Baba Yaga easily takes the cake as best character EVER, with Mewster (a big cat in servitude to Baba Yaga) following not far behind. I LOVED these two. Baba Yaga was absolutely nuts, there is no other way to put it. I’m not sure I understood half of what came out of her mouth but regardless her cryptic wisdom and banter and crazy antics were always welcome. Just as Mewster’s sass and commentary were welcome. Together they provided endless entertainment while reading this book. Even the house was a piece of work and kept me guessing. It was great.

The only thing holding me back from giving this book 5 stars was the writing. I am not quite sure how to describe it - a little too fanciful perhaps? - but rather than the words flowing smoothly into an easy to read narrative they kind of bogged me down at times and made it difficult for me to continuously follow along. I think I would have enjoyed the story more had it been a little more simplistic, writing wise. And I have a feeling it will deter some readers from sticking with it. But readability aside, I think this story was delightful.

I was seriously looking forward to reading Egg and Spoon and I am glad to say that it did not disappoint. I loved the Russian backdrop, the mythical creatures, the unique and unpredictable characters, and the magical adventure. I felt like I again was reading a favorite childhood story and if that appeals to you, then I definitely recommend this book.
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