Title: The Girl in the Tower Winternight Trilogy, Book 2
Author: Katherine Arden
Genre: Literary Fiction/Fantasy
Published by: Del Rey
Published Date: December 5, 2017
Sold by: Random House LLC
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.
My Thoughts: Author Katherine Arden paints a picture with her eloquent prose capturing ancient winter in Russia, where people are vulnerable to the cold and the mythological protectors of the mankind can only be strong against evil if men believe in them. The old ways are weakening, belief in one god is sweeping the lands even into small villages and hovels. I felt my feet were knee-deep snow all the time, with blazing cold surrounding me.
Vasilisa is a unique girl, now a young woman who sees these small creatures who protect the world, as her mother did before. Seeking a new life outside her small villages, Morozko, the winter demon of old mythological stories Vasilisa learned at her mother’s knee, comes to her aid. Rather than receiving her at death, he steps in to give her life.
Dressed as a young boy, she travels to a castle where she meets her brother who she hasn’t seen in eight years. They are kindred in more ways than siblings. They each have the curiosity of life and learning which makes it hard for Sasha to do what he feels is right for his sister. What woman can remain secreted in boy’s clothing?
As the story moves forward, unraveling Vasilisa’s deception is no longer easy. When it’s discovered, all what her brother wants to avoid happens. Disgrace for him, his older sister and Vasilisa.
Solovey (magic speaking horse), adores Vasilisa and is a huge help to her on the way to discovering the world. He empowers Vasilisa to escape or fight for her safety and as it happens, for others who she finds unjustly treated or injured.
This is a story where I fell in love with so many of the characters. If you are interested in the read, which I hope you are, start with book one, The Bear and the Nightingale. Author Arden has written a beguiling series with surprises, where evil is just out of reach, prodding my curiosity who the bad characters are and who ultimately is behind all the evil.
A complimentary ARC was provided to me for an honest, unbiased review.