Title: The Girl in the Tower
Author: Katherine Arden
Publisher: Del Rey, imprint of Penguin Random House
Release date: December 5, 2017
Genre: fantasy, fairytale, historical fiction
My rating: 5/5 stars
Thank you to the publisher for providing a review copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This review contains mild spoilers for The Bear and the Nightingale.
If you don’t already know, Arden’s debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale, was one of my favourite releases this past year. I mean really, if you have paid attention to my social media sites for even a few minutes you are probably aware of this fact. Arden’s frosty fairytale and beautiful characters have enchanted me completely and I can’t even begin to describe how excited I was for the chance to read and review the sequel early as it is one of my most anticipated new releases.
In all regards, The Girl in the Tower is a strong and worthy continuation of the story of Vasya and her horse companion, Solovey. Arden stays true to the frosty, historical atmosphere of medieval Moscow and delivers the reader an even more un-put-down-able story packed with satisfying action and filled to the brim with whimsical details. We are reunited with house spirits and introduced to iconic Russian characters such as the Firebird. And dare I say there is even a little hoped-for romance developing between Vasya and a certain Frost Demon.
The story opens in a palace in Moscow with two lesser side characters from BEAR; Vasya’s sister, Olga, and brother, Sasha. As I was burning to find out where Vasya’s adventures took her going forth from the end of BEAR, I was a little impatient getting through the first few chapters. However, they are not without purpose and set the scene for the political intrigue that will become the main catalyst for the story. Thankfully we don’t have long to wait before Vasya is back, and when she finally arrives on the scene it is with all the energy and effortless flair you’d expect from our plucky heroine.
Vasya is now a young woman and is learning how to find her place in an unforgiving world that makes no allowance for women with a desire for more than marriage and child-rearing. In order to move freely through her world, Vasya disguises herself as a man and seek out adventure on the road. She finds herself quickly entangled in intrigue that unravels into dangerous circumstances that could threaten her life. Vasya’s character has grown more complex as she makes more mistakes and finds new strength. She has quickly become one of my favourite heroines.
I was delighted to read more about Vasya and Morozko’s increasingly complicated alliance and the scenes they share together are laden with emotional tension. It was compelling to learn more about Morozko’s part in the story and to witness him wrestle with the part of him that is oh so human. I’m eager to see how their story resolves after some intense revelations.
The Girl in the Tower is an achingly beautiful deep-winter tale and I may have enjoyed it even more than it’s predecessor (which is saying a lot considering how much I adored it!). This will certainly not be the last you’ll hear from me of persuading everyone to pick up Arden’s stunning Winternight trilogy because I can pretty much guarantee you will fall for it as I have.