TITLE: The Girl In The Tower
AUTHOR: Katherine Arden
SERIES: The Winternight Trilogy (#2)
PUBLISHER: Del Rey
GENRE: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Young Adult
RATING: 5/5 Stars
For a young woman in medieval Russia, the choices are stark: marriage or a life in a convent. Vasya will choose a third way: magic...
The court of the Grand Prince of Moscow is plagued by power struggles and rumours of unrest. Meanwhile bandits roam the countryside, burning the villages and kidnapping its daughters. Setting out to defeat the raiders, the Prince and his trusted companion come across a young man riding a magnificent horse.
Only Sasha, a priest with a warrior's training, recognises this 'boy' as his younger sister, thought to be dead or a witch by her village. But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, Sasha realises he must keep her secret as she may be the only way to save the city from threats both human and fantastical...
What I Liked:
- Vasya has grown up from a feisty, inquisitive girl to a strong heroine! I loved her so much! She didn't make too many stupid decisions, was strong in her beliefs and seems to have a much better hold over her own feelings and powers. I also really enjoyed reading POV chapters from her family members - Sasha and Olga were both characters I wanted to hear more from. Great character development from all to be found here, and that was my favourite thing about the book!
- Once again I was amazed by Katherine Arden's world-crafting ability! She really knew the time period and culture well, and it was interesting to have such a glimpse into Russian history. But the folklore was the best inclusion of all. This book, and it's predecessor, gives a nod to Russian fairy tales of course but the mythology is deeply entwined into the story. The spirits that inhabit houses and bath rooms and ovens are often comical and do a great job of adding to the plot!
- Let's not forget the plot itself! It was certainly interesting, full of plenty of action, twists and turns. I liked the battles, I liked the romance and I liked the elements of mystery solving. This is definitely Fantasy done right and I want more. Much more.
What I Disliked:
- Personally, I didn't struggle so I won't say this is a dislike per se. However, Russians on the Medieval era really liked nicknames. They assign hundreds to the same character and Arden incorporates that well into the story meaning that if you aren't paying attention, you might lose track!
What a wonderful read. If you like magic and adventure set in a historical time period, you'll love this. There's great fantastical elements to be had, I loved recognising some of the stories and fairy tales, and above all I am so glad this wasn't just a filler book. The plot really helped to develop the characters which is important in the second book of a trilogy. I can't wait for book three!