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Read an extract from horror anthology Into The Forest: Tales of Baba Yaga

Read an extract from horror anthology Into The Forest: Tales of Baba Yaga

A women-in-horror anthology edited by Lindy Ryan. Foreword by Christina Henry.

Deep in the dark forest, in a cottage that spins on birds’ legs behind a fence topped with human skulls, lives the Baba Yaga. A guardian of the water of life, she lives with her sisters and takes to the skies in a giant mortar and pestle, creating tempests as she goes. Those who come across the Baba Yaga may find help, or hinderance, or horror. She is wild, she is woman, she is witch—and these are her tales. Edited by Lindy Ryan, this collection brings together some of today’s leading voices of women-in-horror as they pay tribute to the baba yaga, and go Into the Forest.


Greetings, and welcome to our perfect little neighbourhood! We’re so very happy to have you here. You’ll be a lovely addition to our community.

Follow us now, and please come see our beautiful homes. Matching shutters, matching cars, matching families at neatly-set dinner tables. Everything’s absolutely flawless, don’t you think?

(Pay no attention to the clogged gutters or the cracks in the foundation or the mortgage bills piling up in the kitchen corner. This tour should have a little fantasy, shouldn’t it?)

One home after another, we want to show them all to you. Our vaulted ceilings, our vaulted lives. This is our little pocket of paradise, you might say. After all, we have everything we could ever want. Our gleaming white walls as plain and straightforward as each new day in our lives. There’s nothing out of the ordinary here, nothing calling to us from just beyond the property line.

Where are you, my girls? And who’s the new face among you?

Please keep up now. We’ve got one last place to show you. At the end of the cul-de-sac, past all the pretty little houses and the pretty little families locked up within, there’s a final sight you should see. It’s easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. And why would you know? You’re new here, the same way we were all new once.

Look there among the dense patch of pine trees, and you’ll spot it. A dirt path, the kind that could be no more than an access road. And as it turns out, it does access something. Or someone.

We never say her name, but that’s because we don’t have to. We could recognize her in an instant, even though we’ve never seen her up close. She’s always with us, a whisper on the wind, a shadow passing over our eyes when we’re looking away. Something so near it makes the hairs on the backs of our necks stand on end.

(They say her house in the deep, lonely woods is propped up on chicken legs and filled with a thousand bones. Late at night, we sometimes lie awake and wonder if those bones make her home stronger than ours. We also wonder if maybe we should find some bones of our own.)

Tucked there in the gloomy forest, she’s our unlikely den mother, the creature of the green, the enchantress you’ll never tame. And why would you want to tame her anyhow? She’s better wild.

(Everything’s better when it’s left to run wild.)

It’s getting dark now, so we should get a move on. But this isn’t the last time you’ll come here, is it? You might settle in for a while, unpacking all your porcelain and linens, and pretend you don’t care about this secret place. But it will needle you, just like it needles us.

When you go jogging in the evening or take the stroller out at noon, you might want to creep a little closer to the path. Just for a moment, just to get a better look. That’s when you’ll see how terribly overgrown it is, all clotted with brambles and darkness. It doesn’t look very welcoming. It doesn’t look like home.

(Yet it feels like home, doesn’t it? Somewhere you thought you’d dreamed up, somewhere you’d always longed for.)

So now that you’re part of our neighbourhood, the important thing to remember is to never take that path. If you’re smart, you won’t even stand at the mouth of it, the heady scent of pine and promise filling your lungs. You especially won’t stare down its winding turns into the eager darkness looming there.

In fact, it’s best to pretend the path doesn’t exist at all. Please won’t you forget we mentioned it to you? That would be safer for you. And for us.

Where are you, my girls? What are you waiting for?

Into The Forest edited by Lindy Ryan is out 08 November, published by Black Spots, priced £14.99 in paperback original

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