Katherine Arden returns to the blog today to continue The Winternight Trilogy, a mix of Russian folk and fairy tales, magic and plenty of atmosphere all wrapped up in a lovely story that will recapture the child in each adult as they read. Please read on for my review of
The Girl in the Tower
Having been delighted with the freshness of the first book in the series, Arden returns and presents more of that world that many of us unfamiliar with Slavic and Russian folk and fairy tales can devour and enjoy. Again, the exhaustive research and incorporation of tales combine in the writing as Vasya’s story continues and unfolds before us. As the last story ended, Vasya’s choices were narrow; marry or join a convent. As we have come to see, she takes another unoffered option and runs off disguised as a boy – heading out to make her own life. All of the wonderful moments and traits that made Vasya a solid heroine in the first book are tempered with her own experience and a bit of age: even as she is as determined as ever to follow her own heart and path.
Again Arden mixes the fantastical with the plausible (and historic) moments, Vasya’s travels take her through the landscape of 14th century Russia, easily allowing readers to feel as if the landscape was haunted by spirits: some human, others supernatural, as she lands in the midst of political intrigue as the unrest threatens the Moscovian rulers, of which her cousin, Dmitri, is a part. While the overall tone is dark-ish, there are moments that shine as the atmospheric descriptions and visualizations will have you reaching for a cuddly blanket as the chill of the landscape reaches out and tugs at imagination. One of the favorite characters, beyond Vasya and her approach to tackling problems, new people and issues is the Frost demon, Morozko: so utterly complete and present in his depiction – full of the contradictions that we all have, and wholly engaging despite his reputation and power of bad. Arden has used the story of Vasya and her continued saga to present a Russia of old that is both timeless and encompassing.
Best read if you are familiar with The Bear and the Nightingale, the story is paced similarly, allowing you to escape into the book and savor the moments as you wonder just how each piece fits into the overall. In this book, several moments from the earlier come clearer and inform Vasya’s decisions and choices, and while the political and societal unrest play on her choices, few are solely determined by any one event, allowing the story to feel as if it is progressing naturally – even with the fantastical moments. Sure to please fans of fairy tales and magically plausible fiction, this second installment promises wonder for the conclusion of the trilogy – and sure to be a favorite of many looking for something that is just a bit different.
Title: The Girl in the Tower
Author: Katherine Arden
Series: The Winternight Trilogy #2
Also in this series: The Bear and the Nightingale
Genre: Fairy Tale Remix, Historical Fiction / Fantasy Elements, Literary Fiction, Magic
Published by: Del Ray
Published on: 5 December, 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 13 Hours: 2 minutes
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The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.
Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.