Series: Winternight Trilogy #2
Published by Del Rey on December 5, 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Historical
Sexual Content: Kissing, unwanted physical contact, references to rape
Reviewed by: Kate
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 loved THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE so much, and wasn't expecting THE GIRL IN THE TOWER to live up to my lovely remembrances of the first book, mainly because I felt that the story in THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE had been wrapped up. What more could possibly happen? Luckily, Arden managed to pull a story out of thin air and the reader gets to enjoy a whole new adventure with Vasya.
When I first picked up THE GIRL IN THE TOWER, it was a bit difficult for me to really dig into it. The mythology and numerous character names (sometimes multiple different names/nicknames for the same character) made it hard to just jump back into the world. One thing that helped was this recap of the first book. But, once I did get more into the book (pro-tip, there's a glossary at the back) I was able to disappear into the story. Vasya's world is all-encompassing, with fantasy elements that fit right in with the seemingly everyday politics and drama.
THE GIRL IN THE TOWER felt darker to me than the first book in the trilogy, but the darkness is what kept me reading. The pull to find out what is going to happen to Vasya kept me on the edge of my seat. I'll admit, there were times when I hated the book for making me feel so many emotions - but to me that's the mark of a well-written story, if I am invested enough to really feel the same things as the characters. The stress that Sasha felt at keeping his sister's secret, the heart-pounding fear and exhilaration Vasya experienced as she escaped from bandits, and the budding love Morosko discovers in his immortal heart all felt as real to me as if they were my own emotions.
THE GIRL IN THE TOWER is a story of secrets and impossible love and (somehow) gender politics in historical Russia, written with a mastery of the material and wonderful skill. It is everything I had hoped for, and more, and I can't wait for the final book in the trilogy to find out what happens to Vasya.Series Titles:
- The Bear and the Nightingale - 4/5
- The Girl in the Tower
- The Winter of the Witch
- For another Russian folktale inspired book, try Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter.