Once upon a time, there was a Russian fairy tale witch named Baba Yaga. She lived in a wooden hut that moved about the forest on giant chicken legs, and flew through the air in a huge mortar steered by a pestle. Her companions were a dragon named Chudo-Yudo and three mysterious men on variously colored steeds known as the White Rider, the Red Rider, and the Black Rider. The Baba Yaga would occasionally help a worthy seeker, if that seeker could pass her tests. But you really didn’t want to get on her bad side. She ate small children who didn’t finish all their borscht, they say. That part they got wrong. Most of the rest of it, well, they got more right than not. But that was then.
This is now.
These days the Baba Yagas move far beyond the borders of Russia and its Slavic neighbors. What’s that? Yes, I said Baba Yagas, plural. You see, it was always more of a job title than a name. If you read the old tales, they often spoke of the Baba Yaga and her “sisters,” also called Baba Yaga (in case you weren’t confused enough). Not to worry, I can give you better names than that: Barbara, Beka, and Bella.
These three are the Baba Yagas who are charged with taking care of the lands of the United States. They guard the doorways between our world and the Otherworld, where the paranormal folk and their Queen retreated many years ago. They work to maintain the balance of the natural world (although Humans are making that more and more difficult these days). And sometimes, if it is absolutely unavoidable, they too will help a worthy seeker. Barbara hates that part.
The three Baba Yagas are all powerful witches and older than they look, but in most other ways they are very different. They have a few things in common, though, besides their affection for each other and their dedication to their tasks. All live in the huts they inherited from the Babas who trained them, magical homes whose appearance has been changed to better fit in with the modern world.
Barbara, the eldest, has a cloud of wild black hair, wears a lot of black leather, and travels the country in a silver Airstream trailer. Her mortar and pestle are now a classic royal blue BMW motorcycle, and her Chudo-Yudo is disguised as a gigantic white pit bull. People would probably notice a dragon if they met one, after all.
Beka, the youngest, and newest to her role, looks like a typical blond hippy surfer chick, which she mostly is when she isn’t calming storms at sea or rescuing Mer people. Her painted school bus and improbably well-preserved Karman Ghia are well suited to the California coast she loves so much, as is her pal Chewie, who is a large black Newfoundland dog. Except when he’s a water dragon, of course.
And then there is red-haired Bella. In some ways the most traditional of them all, she prefers the forests and the deserts, where she can travel in peace in her caravan with Koshka, who to all appearances is a humongous Norwegian Forest Cat. After all, most large cats are practically dragons anyway. Just ask one, if you don’t believe me.
What about the Riders, you ask? Oh yes, they’re still around too. Their magical steeds are now a white Yamaha, a red Ducati, and a black Harley, but still altogether enchanted. As for the Riders, well, they are even a greater mystery than the Baba Yagas, and that is really saying something. But each of the Babas has a story to tell, and each of the Riders too. Stories of magic and adventure, and yes, even love. But you’ll have to read them to find out what happens, won’t you? After all, who doesn’t love a good fairy tale? Even one set in a thoroughly modern world.
So pull up a chair next to the fire and help yourself to a bowl of borscht—or a glass of wine if that suits you better—and listen as I tell you the tales of the Baba Yagas. They’re probably not true. Unless, perhaps, they are. You will have to decide for yourself.
The only thing more fiery than Bella Young’s red hair is her temper. She knows that a Baba Yaga’s power without strict control can leave the people she cares about burned, so to protect her heart—and everyone around her—the only company she keeps is her dragon-turned-Norwegian-Forest-cat, Koshka.
But when Bella is tasked with discovering who’s setting magical fires throughout Wyoming’s Black Hills, she finds herself working closely with former hotshots firefighter Sam Corbett—and falling hard for his quiet strength and charm.
Sam may bear the scars of his past, but Bella can see beyond them and would do anything to help him heal. Only before she can rescue her Prince Charming, she’ll have to overcome the mysterious foe setting the forest fires—a truly wicked witch who wields as much power and even more anger than Bella...
Deborah Blake is the author of the Baba Yaga Series from Berkley (Wickedly Dangerous, Wickedly Wonderful, Wickedly Powerful) and has published nine books on modern witchcraft with Llewellyn Worldwide. When not writing, Deborah runs The Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and also works as a jewelry maker, tarot reader, and energy healer. She lives in a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with five cats who supervise all her activities, both magical and mundane.
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