Book Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden ★★★★

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“Every time you take one path, you must live with the memory of the other: of a life left unchosen. Decide as seems best, one course or the other; each way will have its bitter with its sweet.”

This was a fantastic second installment of the Winternight Trilogy! I really liked the new story and characters we were introduced to, and the new details we were given about familiar characters. The scope of the novel got quite a bit bigger, too, which was really enjoyable to read. I was a big fan!

How come no one has talked about The Girl in the Tower?! I heard so many people on Booktube and blogs discuss The Bear and the Nightingale (rightly so), but then no one ever mentioned the sequel. I had to find out on my own that The Bear and the Nightingale was even part of a trilogy! I am so glad I did though, because I really loved the second part of the story and I cannot wait to get the last installment soon, too.

This was a great sequel, that in no way suffered from middle book syndrome. I was so pleased about that. The story was fresh, not repetitive, and very exciting. It picks up right where the first one left off, after a short intro story telling the sad tale of the Snegurochka, the snow maiden, and alluding to love versus immortality. Which of course, comes to light later in the novel.

I was happy to see Vasya back as the main protagonist, as she is fun and interesting to read about. She defininitely had the most page time again, but we did also get some more insight into Sasha and Olga’s perspectives, which was a good addition to the story.

Overall, this sequel felt like a good expansion on the first novel. Where the first story took place primarily in the forest/countryside and village of the Vasya’s family, The Girl in the Tower branches out far beyond those woods, reaching all the way to Moscow. We learn more about the other characters, we see more of the world they are in, and it all flows naturally as Vasya continues to grow as a character and branch out from her childhood home. It was so exciting to see her brave the odds and choose to leave, to stay true to her nature, and defy the dangers at every turn. Her story is no longer just a fairytale where she alone can save everyone. She gets tangled up in Russian politics and feuds with other nations, with religion again and her brother’s devotion, with her constant yearning to break the mold everyone is trying to force her, and all Russian women, into.

I loved the look we got at Olga, and the glimpse of their grandmother’s life too, where it shows a beautiful and powerful woman marrying well and, by all accounts, being awarded a prestigious fulfilling life. But to Vasya, it is horrifying. Her young, proud sister is now just an aging woman locked in a tower forever. She has a rich life from the outside, but Vasya could not imagine being trapped like that and living only to have and raise babies in the tower. The different viewpoints of Olga and Vasya here were nuanced and interesting, especially since Vasya was masquerading as a male for most of the novel. It highlighted the societal constraints put on women at those times, and how just simply being a woman, could make people go from calling Vasya a hero to a witch.

Again, I greatly enjoyed Vasya’s relationship with Solovey and their bond. It is so pure and strong, and really reads to anyone who has ever loved a horse like that. Arden definitely seems to admire and care about horses, based on how she depicts them in her novels.

And speaking of relationships, I am all here for Morozko and Vasya’s tragic desire. There were certainly hints of something there in the first book, but Vasya was young for the majority of that story and there were more pressing matters at hand. Here though, for some time, Vasya is able to relax and explore her feelings for the Frost Demon. We know right away that their intimacy is not going to have a happy ending here, and the melancholy, star-crossed effect is lovely to experience. Nothing is explicitly stated between the two still, it is all very subtle and tenuous. I am hoping that we get some solid resolution in the final book, but I am not hopeful that it will be a happy. I imagine their story will only ever be bittersweet.

The writing is once again very lush and tangible. The dialogue is great and the action scenes are very well done. I think Arden is already honing her craft and some of the stilted, repetitive feeling from the first book has been smoothed out here. It is so good!

To no one’s surprise, I will be getting the third book as soon as I can, to finish up this magnificent series! I hope over time that the rest of the books get as much recognition as the first one had. They deserve it!

Normally I would be concerned that these people seem to prefer horses over cats, buuuut it seems freezing there! I’ll leave Russia to the horses.

Thank you for reading!

Title: The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy #2)
Author: Katherine Arden
Genre: Fantasy |Historical Fiction | Fairy Tales | Literature Fiction | Russian Folklore | Mythology
Publication Date: December 5th, 2017
Page Count: 363 pages
Buy It:Wordery Book Depository

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden ★★★★

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