The Girl in The Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden

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The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2)
By Katherine Arden
Release date: 12/5/17
Publisher: Del Rey
ISBN13: 9781101885963
Pages: 352
Genre: Fantasy /Folklore

Synopsis:

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.


(New) Thoughts

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.

Untitled design Enjoyed with several cups of double spiced chai and cinnamon.

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You Choose, I Read – Review of The Bear and the Nightingale

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The Bear and the Nightingale
By Katherine Arden
Publisher Del Rey
ISBN13: 9781101885932
Pages: 322
Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale

Synopsis:

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.


my-thought

The Bear and the Nightingale was my first You Choose, I Read selection. I have to confess, that there was a certain amount of internal joy when I saw this title pop up on Rafflecopter, as it has been on my TBR for some time.

Russian folklore is something I have only recently been introduced to. But during my short time of acquaintance, I have discovered a deep appreciation for it. It is an area I plan to explore with every given opportunity.

For those of you who happen to be less familiar than myself with the folklore and Vasilisa, she is a traditional Russian fairy tale character. The differentiating quality of this particular young female protagonist is that instead of requiring rescue as we typically encounter in older fairy tales, she is better known for setting out on her own. She often overcomes a series of obstacles to defeat the villain. And here we are presented with another beautiful rendition of such tale.

Vasilisa has a hidden gift. One that she dares not share with others. She can communicate with the spirits of the forest and house. But when a newly arrived priest and her stepmother put a halt to the honoring the household spirits, things take a sudden turn. Winter settles in hard and the land fails to produce and provide. Lives are at risk and evil that has been contained within the forest quickly encroaches.  Now Vasilisa will expose her “talent” in effort to save her family and land.

For two reasons in particular, The Bear and the Nightingale pulled me deep within its pages and refused to release me.

  1. Exemplary storytelling.
  2. Adult fairy tale/retelling.

Character development was certainly among The Bear and the Nightingale’s list of shining accomplishments. I was not prepared for the fondness that I would  discover for Vasya (Vasilisa). Like an ugly duckling coming into her own, she is resilient and bold. Her growth and evolution easily rival those of any female character I have encountered over the last year. She commands respect and effortlessly fills those ever strong-willed and determined shoes you might be familiar with if you have experienced Russian folklore. Her brazen and spirited attitude in the face of constant adversity makes her as memorable as she is admirable.

The plot invites you in and promises to satisfy. All necessary components are in place and come together beautifully to create a unique and fascinating experience. The combination of Christianity intermingled among homes that still held Pagan beliefs proved to create a setting ripe with potential that the author did not neglect. Learning of each Slavic Spirit and how the household placated them was an intriguing facet that added a welcomed touch of culture and provided an appreciated depth and richness to the story .

Arden spares no want for detail while creating an enticing world that delivers all one could desire of a fairy tale. Expectations are exceeded. Saturated with folklore and fantasy, she  has taken classic storytelling to new heights. We are thrust into a culturally rich and atmospheric read that is so immersive you find yourself hard pressed to walk away.

With a gratifying conclusion that left me wanting more, The Bear and the Nightingale is now one of my top reads for 2017. Recommending this delightful gem to all fans of fairy tales.

Purchase Links:

Amazon US  Amazon UK  Book Depository


Meet The Blogger Who Recommended This Book

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Stephanie is no stranger in the book community. She can be found at Teacher of YA, blogging and reviewing YA titles while sharing valuable feedback regarding books in the classroom setting.

I recently asked Stephanie 5 questions to get to know a little bit more about her and her blogging. Here is what she had to say:

Thank you Stephanie, for the wonderful recommendation!


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