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Thistlefoot by GennaRose Nethercott
Fantasy

Thistlefoot

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, GennaRose Nethercott, on your first book!

by GennaRose Nethercott

Excellent choice

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Quick take

House on chicken legs + girl who can bring inanimate objects to life + prophecy foretold adds up to a perfect fantasy.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LGBTQ

    LGBTQ+ themes

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Magical

    Magical

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_BasedOnAClassic

    Based on a classic

Synopsis

The Yaga siblings—Bellatine, a young woodworker, and Isaac, a wayfaring street performer and con artist—have been estranged since childhood, separated both by resentment and by wide miles of American highway. But when they learn that they are to receive a mysterious inheritance, the siblings are reunited—only to discover that their bequest isn’t land or money, but something far stranger: a sentient house on chicken legs.

Thistlefoot, as the house is called, has arrived from the Yagas’ ancestral home in Russia—but not alone. A sinister figure known only as the Longshadow Man has tracked it to American shores, bearing with him violent secrets from the past: fiery memories that have hidden in Isaac and Bellatine’s blood for generations. As the Yaga siblings embark with Thistlefoot on a final cross-country tour of their family’s traveling theater show, the Longshadow Man follows in relentless pursuit, seeding destruction in his wake. Ultimately, time, magic, and legacy must collide—erupting in a powerful conflagration to determine who gets to remember the past and craft a new future.

An enchanted adventure illuminated by Jewish myth and adorned with lyrical prose as tantalizing and sweet as briar berries, Thistlefoot is an immersive modern fantasy saga by a bold new talent.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Thistlefoot.
Thistlefoot

PROLOGUE

Behold: kali tragus, the Russian thistle. A bushy lump of a plant, green flowers vanishing into green leaves. Its stem, striped red and violet as a bruised wrist. The leaves are lined with spikes, sharp like stitching needles. You are advised to wear gloves when handling it, if you must handle it at all. Should the thorns prick you, pretend you don’t feel it. It doesn’t do any good to gripe in times like these. There are worse wounds to be had than a thistle prick. Much, much worse.

The Russian thistle swells to life in the most arid climates. It thrives on disturbed land—flourishes in those places where a strange violence occurred. Among burned crops. Thirsty fields. Once-thriving farmlands ravaged by blight. Despite it all, the Russian thistle survives. Multiplies. It can grow between six and thirty-six inches tall. When it dies, it breaks off at the base and journeys across the earth, dropping seeds as it travels. The thistle moves like a living beast, rolling and waltzing in the summer wind, licking up dust, shimmying against the unhinged expanse of the land.

There’s a story people tell about a man back in Russia who was executed by the state. His head was severed. When the head thumped to the ground, it turned into a fat fox and ran out through the crowd of onlookers, out of the city limits, out into the forest where it lives to this day. The Russian thistle, it’s not so different—rent from the root and running, running.

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Why I love it

Like many of you, I’m never without a book, and will take any opportunity to stick my nose into some pages. Subway ride? Check. Vacation? Check. In line at the grocery store? Double check. I can read absolutely anywhere … except a plane. I’ve never been able to get more than a page or two deep before something interrupts me or my mind wanders. So, when I tell you that I feverishly binged this entire book on a 4-hour flight without looking up even once, that really, really means something. Thistlefoot is extraordinary.

Inspired by old Baba Yaga folk stories, Thistlefoot starts as a fairy tale for grown-ups but then morphs into something much more. Isaac and Bellatine, two estranged siblings, learn they’ve been left an inheritance. This inheritance turns out not to be money, but a home—a sentient house that walks on giant chicken legs, in fact. But what Isaac and Bellatine don’t know is that they haven’t just inherited the magical house. They’ve also inherited a dark legacy of violence, trauma, and loss that stretches across generations and oceans. This legacy stalks them in the form of a foreboding pursuer who is both a man and yet not. As they go on the run, Isaac, Bellatine, and their house Thistlefoot must make a choice: surrender that legacy for their own safety or fully embrace its pain and power to stop an evil that seeks to silence forever what makes us all human.

Thistlefoot combines Eastern European folklore, Jewish myth, and real history into an incredibly compelling family saga that will stay with you for a long time. Do not miss this book!

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Member ratings (9,590)

  • Cate S.

    Salt Lake City, UT

    Honestly, I adored this book. I love the Baba Yaga story in folklore. It did kind of break my heart a little, in that I felt a lot of emotions reading it but - highly recommend 🐈‍⬛🐈‍⬛🐈‍⬛🐈‍⬛🐈‍⬛

  • Hanna F.

    Round Lake, IL

    Wasn’t sure I was going to like this book, but it was hard to put down. I already miss the characters and the story. It was a beautifully unique story about the power of family and tragedy. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Heath C.

    Moultrie, GA

    This is probably the strangest novel I have ever read. But, I just loved it. At first I thought maybe I had chosen the wrong selection for me, but it quickly took me in and I was hooked.⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Melissa L.

    Aurora , CO

    “…all it takes is one survivor, and the story lives on…” It was a slow burn, but the end was breathtakingly strong. What a heartbreakingly beautiful tribute to a people who won’t soon be forgotten.

  • Michelle W.

    Elko, NV

    At first I didn’t think I was going to like this story at all & then I loved it! So hard to describe well so I’ll let it speak for itself “Sometimes the story you need is not the story you might want”

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