The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2)
By Katherine Arden
Release date: 12/5/17
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Fantasy /Folklore
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.
I am openly stating the usual that as always, this is a review of a sequel in a trilogy so while I do my best to avoid them, there is a small possibility that spoilers may be encountered if you have not read the first book. If you prefer to read my review of The Bear and the Nightingale (The Winternight Trilogy #1), it can be found here.
Every now and then I will stumble across a title that is so deeply atmospheric it transports me not only to another time and place, but another season as well. The Winternight Trilogy is a brilliant example of such rare read, making this the perfect compliment to any cold winter night, a comfortable blanket and a nice, hot cup of tea. Be prepared to settle in, because this one will not release you easily.
The Girl in the Tower returns the reader to the extraordinary tale of Vassila Petrovna, or Vasilii Petrovich as the sequel would have it. Resigned to fleeing the only home she has ever known after being branded a witch by local villagers due to her unusual abilities, Vasya is now a young woman traveling with only the companionship of her faithful steed Solovey. Masquerading as a male traveler, she sets out on her own but soon encounters unexpected trouble in the form of bandits kidnapping young girls and burning the countryside. When her efforts to thwart the bandits and rescue a group of stolen children land her in the Grand Prince of Moscow’s inner and trusted circle where she is reunited with her brother and sister, she must keep her real identity a secret or place everyone in grave jeopardy. However, everything is about to change when she uncovers a plot to overthrow the Grand Prince and just might be the only one who knows the true danger lurking among familiar faces.
Vasya’s evolution from a young, awkward girl into a courageous and spirited woman is a testament to the character development you can expect in The Girl in the Tower. A well-balanced mix of personas, religion and politics offer a dynamic cast that is ever-growing and changing.
Skillfully incorporating characters and influences of Russian folklore and fairy tales throughout, Arden establishes a world that immerses the reader into an alluring era. The unknown quickly transforms into something captivating as you find yourself surrounded in harsh winter lands not without their own magic and beauty.
Arden’s prose is sophisticated and enchanting, assuring an effortless experience that carries over each page with incredible ease. She writes with a confidence and knowledge that bestows upon the reader a story full of depth while refusing to become lost in frivolous details or complexities. All components are flawlessly executed, ensuring a tale that rivals its predecessor.
The Girl in the Tower merits a deserved spot among my favorite reads of 2017 without question. The Winternight Trilogy may very well become one of my favorite series of all time. Read it, experience it!
* I want to thank Del Rey Publishing and Netgalley for this advanced copy. The above review is my honest, unbiased opinion.
Enjoyed with several cups of double spiced chai and cinnamon.