The Girl in the Tower: A Novel

The Girl in the Tower: A NovelThe Girl in the Tower: A Novel (The Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden
Published by Del Rey on December 5th 2017
Pages: 352
ISBN: 1101885963
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four-stars

The Girl in the Tower is the second book in the Winternight Trilogy (first book being “The Bear and the Nightingale”). This book sees our heroine,Vasya, attempting to survive alone after her father’s death. It is medieval Russia and a lone woman has few choices: enter a convent or get married. Wanting neither option, Vasya turns to Morozko for assistance. Morozko is “Frost” a winter demon who cannot die (or can he?). He helped her in the first book in the series and there appeared to be an inkling of romance there. Hmmmm will we see more of that in this book????

Vasya sets off on her trusted Stallion, Solovey, who can understand her when she speaks and who can speak to her, for Moscow. Knowing she will not be safe traveling alone as a woman, she disguises herself as a man and sets forth on her journey. In Moscow, the reader gets to be reacquainted with Vasyas’s sister, Olga and her brother Sasha. Through Sasha we learn about a team of bandits who have been terrorizing villagers and kidnapping girls to sell as slaves. We also meet Vasya’s cousin Dmitri – The Grand Prince of Moscow. He considers Vasya to be a hero after her fight with bandits. There is one who does not see Vasya as a hero – that being the evil priest. But enough about him.

This story/trilogy based on Russian Folklore/Fairy tales is addicting. It could go off the rails with Vasya being able to see creatures that no one else can see and having the ability to communicate with them but it does not. All of this works in this book. What does not work for me? The lack of Morozko in this book. Yes, Yes, I know he is in it. But can I be honest? I love his character. I wanted more of him. I love how he shows up to help Vasya when he can. I love the hint of romance. How they each read the other person and his/her attentions completely wrong. There were times that I wanted to shake both of them. I wanted more and got less. But there is a third book in this series and I feel that not everything is finished where these two are concerned. This is a fairy tale and things are not always as they seem so I will anxiously wait to read the last book to learn what course Vasya’s life takes. I did enjoy learning of their “connection” and why they are drawn to each other. I also hope to see Vasya come more into her own, mature more and grow as a person.

If you have not read the first book in the series (The Bear and the Nightingale), I recommend reading that book prior to reading this one.

Winter is coming and what a wonderful book to read on a cold, long night. I think it is safe to say that there is a little bit of magic in this book!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

four-stars

The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the NightingaleThe Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Published by Del Rey on January 10th 2017
Pages: 336
ISBN: 1101885939
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three-half-stars

Received from the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book was inspired by Russian Fairy Tales.

Vasya grows up wild after her Mother dies in childbirth. Her Mother had become skinny and weak prior to her birth but wanted a child ” a daughter” like her grandmother. A child with “gifts”. Unfortunately her Mother does not survive her birth and Vasya grows up believing she killed her Mother and that she is not attractive or beguiling as her sister. She also sees “creatures” that no one else can see and she has a connection to the horses in the stables. Her father and older siblings can’t seem to tame her. It is suggested that her father take a second wife in hopes that a “new” mother will help tame this wild nature loving child. Her step Mother is not an evil stepmother but a young woman herself who never wanted to marry. She had hoped to spend her life in a covenant. She feared the “house-spirits” that she saw and hoped to stop her step daughter from seeing them.

This is the ultimate fail as her father’s second wife seems to see the same “demons” that Vasya does. To make things more interesting, her father is approached by a stranger in the forest with piercing eyes who has an amulet for the young girl. Her father is instructed to give the necklace to his daughter and that she must always have it on her. Vasya’s nurse maid ultimately keeps the amulet and only gives it to Vasya when she feels she is ready to take possession of it. Meanwhile a force, a bear, if you will, has awoken in the forest and is threatening to destroy them all.

At first I was not sure how I felt about this book. I kept starting it and then putting it down and opting to read other books. Then finally I thought “this is enough already.” This book has been compared to Uprooted by Naomi Novik. I really enjoyed that book and decided to give this book the old college try.

Why was it so hard to get into? Initially because I needed to get used to a book with so many unusual names. This may sound trite but it is true. Also, I have been reading a lot of mysteries lately and was in the groove of reading them. But when I sat down and gave this book the old college try, I found that it slowly creeps up on you much like the “spirits” and “demons” of this book. This fairy tale about/within a fairy tale set in a far away Russian kingdom slowly came to life and slowly sucked me in. I don’t even know how I would categorize this book. What I will say is that my description does not do it justice. This book had a lot of atmosphere and one could feel the cold and mounting dread as the bear awakens. The imagery is amazing and I could literally “see” this book unfolding before me. There is not a HUGE amount of action in this book. It really does build, giving the reader the “chills” as the suspense builds to the books finale. What seemed like a hard book to get into turned into a hard book to put down.

An interesting book for lovers of fairy tales, folklore, or fantasy-type books.

three-half-stars