Friday, December 8, 2017

Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

The Girl in the Tower
(The Winternight Trilogy #2)
Katherine Arden
Release: December 5, 2017
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A remarkable young woman blazes her own trail, from the backwoods of Russia to the court of Moscow, in the exhilarating sequel to Katherine Arden’s bestselling debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale.

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.

One of my favorite books of this year was The Bear and the Nightingale so I was so excited to get my hands on an ARC of the second book. Everything I loved about the first book was in this one. The folklore and the adventure and the family dynamics were glorious! What I love about this trilogy is that not everything is black and white but grayscale and messy.

Vasya has left her village behind with her beloved Solovey and is continuing with her quest to figure out who she is. She knows that she isn’t meant to be just a lord’s wife or left in a convent. She fights against these ideas by dressing as a boy. Vasya is a hero and that heroism brings with it a lot of complications. The world she lives in isn’t ready for someone like her and she sticks out.

One of the things I loved about this book was Vasya's interactions with her siblings because her family plays a key role in this book. Her brother, Sasha, left as a teenager to become a monk but he has become more of a warrior than a religious man. He is involved in politics and with the Grand Prince. I will admit that I missed him! But as much as I loved her interactions with Sasha, Olga was my favorite. Olga has grown up a lot since the last book. While I wish we could have seen more of her with her children, I loved the scenes between her and Vasya. Things weren't easy but their interactions were filled with sisterly love. I loved seeing Vasya with her niece, who is just like her in personality and spirit. She had more people she could rely on in this book and it made things more tense but also so much better!

Morozko and Vasya’s relationship develops more in this book and it was intriguing to watch. They embodied the classic trope of an impossibly old and supernatural being falling in love with a young woman. There is a definite power imbalance between Morozko and Vasya and Arden doesn't shy away from it and the complications it brings. Even though they're each developing feelings for each other, those feelings are messy and complicated. And while we learn more about him and who he really is, we're not quite sure what his existence really means. I actually liked him a lot more in this book than the last. He felt more real and mortal. Things are changing and I can't help but ship it.

The Girl in the Tower totally lived up to the expectations I had for it! If you loved The Bear and the Nightingale, you're going to love this one! I can't wait to get my hands on the third book! I want to know how everything wraps up.

ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

  4.5 / 5 Stars

My reviews of other books in this series:
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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