“No, you cannot fade; you are immortal.” Vasya reached for him, caught his shoulders between her hands. On swift impulse, she reached up and kissed him. “Live,” she said.
The Girl in the Tower is the sequel to Katherine Arden’s New York Times bestseller, The Bear and the Nightingale (review). If the first one had me falling in love, the second one commands I build it a shrine. The writing is perfect and the story is carved and pristine. Katherine Arden transports you back to ancient Russia, a world filled with folklore, ancient gods, lowly lords and stately princes.
Oh, and snow.
There’s a lot of snow.
Arden weaves these components into a gorgeous setting. One that’s so real, you can almost smell the forest and taste the food.
This is a must read for lovers of beauty and the fantastic.
In the second book of the Winternight trilogy, we catch up with Vasya as she flees her village that would have her burned for witchcraft. Unable to return, Vasya becomes a traveler. She and her horse Solovey hide deep inside the forests of Russia, away from people, safe.
During her travels, Vasya crosses through a town that has been raided by bandits. She’s horrified to learn the bandits have been robbing the rural towns of Rus for their girl children, killing anyone who fights them. Vasya is determined to help. After a daring rescue Vasya stumbles upon her brother and her cousin the Grand Prince. The Grand Prince favors Vasya and insists she return to the city with him. Vasya finds herself not only in a strange city with new expectations but also with family she has missed and a new enemy.
And that’s just one part of the story.
Just like the first book that so eloquently braided the real with the folklore, Arden does it again in the second book. Only, in The Girl in the Tower it’s so much more than folklore. I won’t give anything away, but the girl in the tower, the villain and the frost god, Morozko, they contain echoes of our favorite childhood fairy tales. Arden has woven so many different thoughts and ideas together seamlessly. She’s concocted food for the mind, soul, and heart.
I read this book with high expectations. I’m pleased to report, Arden delivered. Not only is her research impeccable, but through her extensive knowledge of Russian folklore, Arden brings to life a different kind of fantasy. The Girl in the Tower blends historical fiction and folklore fantasy, creating a kind of magic that beckons you to fall in love.
Read this novel, for beauty’s sake.