I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
The Girl in the Tower
Katherine Arden’s enchanting first novel introduced readers to an irresistible heroine. Vasilisa has grown up at the edge of a Russian wilderness, where snowdrifts reach the eaves of her family’s wooden house and there is truth in the fairy tales told around the fire. Vasilisa’s gift for seeing what others do not won her the attention of Morozko—Frost, the winter demon from the stories—and together they saved her people from destruction. But Frost’s aid comes at a cost, and her people have condemned her as a witch.
Now Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, the only options left for her are marriage or the convent. She cannot bring herself to accept either fate and instead chooses adventure, dressing herself as a boy and setting off astride her magnificent stallion Solovey.
But after Vasilisa prevails in a skirmish with bandits, everything changes. The Grand Prince of Moscow anoints her a hero for her exploits, and she is reunited with her beloved sister and brother, who are now part of the Grand Prince’s inner circle. She dares not reveal to the court that she is a girl, for if her deception were discovered it would have terrible consequences for herself and her family. Before she can untangle herself from Moscow’s intrigues—and as Frost provides counsel that may or may not be trustworthy—she will also confront an even graver threat lying in wait for all of Moscow itself.
Vasya’s adventures continue with The Girl in the Tower, book #2 in The Winternight Trilogy. I’m saddened to know that there is only three books in this series. I’m quite immersed into the paranormal world of ancient Russia. The storytelling is superb and full of world building and fairy tales that come to life.
The fairy tales continue…
Vasya’s life does not get better since book #1. The world that she lives in is a scary one, where the unexplained is cause for panic and accusations of witches. She forsakes her village and seeks comfort in her travels with her horse and somewhat seeks guidance from the frost-demon-Morozko. Vasya’s stubbornness and headstrong attitude throws her into countless conflicts and puts herself and ultimately, her family in danger.
An unexpected character development…
Morozko plays a part in this story as in book #1, but somehow I found him to be more human-like in this one. His self conflict between his emotions and what is right become part of the storyline and the romantic undertone. I felt sorry for him. Vasya’s actions will ultimately hurt him as well. It’s a sad tale that unfolds page by page.
The religious undertones…
The domovoi and friendly spirits are disappearing because of the people’s belief in the iconostases. Vasya’s continued efforts to help them continue but it’s obvious that people are moving on. It all really comes down to the shift in beliefs.
It all really comes down to Vasya…
“Should I run away? Go home? Never see my brothers again? Where do I belong? I don’t know. I don’t know who I am.” ~Vasya.
The entire scope of this story is so vast that it’s impossible to put into one review. All I can talk about is the character development. Vasya’s desire to be someone is more prominent and a key focus of this book. I found her to be a little bit more dangerous and willing to put herself at risk. She has yet to grow up and I’m totally looking forward to book #3. I highly recommend reading this series in order.
Check out my review for The Bear and the Nightingale (book 1) here.
(clicking on image will take you to Amazon series page)