Original name: Vasilisa Prekrasnaya
Original tale: Vasilisa, the Beautiful
Those familiar with the original tale will quickly realize that, besides the usual cosmetic differences shared by all versions I wrote of these fairytale characters, Happily Upon a Time’s Vasilisa and the “original” one have an even greater number of divergences, and this even before things went south for the character. There is no reference at all to the black, red and white knights in the original tale, Vasilisa does not spend a season working for Baba Yaga, etc. This for a very simple reason: It’s a fairly long tale, and would have bloated what is for all intents and purposes the prologue of The Perraultimatum, in which the characters are introduced.
Vasilisa’s loyal doll was another loss, as I had initially established that she would accompany the girl in her journey with the companions, with whom she’d have a number of very peculiar interactions. There was, however, a problem – or rather, three: Apprentice and his spirits, Donkey and the Devil, and even the silent presence of Baba Yaga’s skull. If I added Vasilisa’s almost Bride of Chuckyesque doll to the mix, I’d have a parallel party for all intents and purposes. Interesting as the concept might seem at face value, it just didn’t fit with the story I aimed to tell, and so, with a somewhat heavy heart, the doll had to meet its untimely demise.
Still, and in spite of all this mixing and matching and cutting and fitting, Vasilisa was my third choice when I was forming the group of characters, right after the two far more popular Red Riding Hood and Sorcerer’s Apprentice. I recalled having read of her in a book about Russian fairy tales during my childhood, with the impactful image of a skull with flaming sockets that burned people to ashes seared into my mind. Coupled with my artistic license in reinterpreting the girl’s relationship with fire, and Vasilisa was a perfect fit for the gloomy world of Happily Upon a Time, possibly becoming the most intriguing member of the story’s ragtag group of characters.