Title / The Girl in the Tower
Author / Katherine Arden
Publication Date / 2018
Series or standalone / Book 2 of the Winternight trilogy
Overall Star Rating / ★★★★★
Read till the end for a chance to win a hardback edition of The Girl in the Tower, as well as a paperback edition of The Bear and the Nightingale.
Goodreads synopsis: 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…
“Every time you take one path, you must live with the memory of the other: of a life left unchosen. Decide as seems best, one course or the other; each way will have its bitter with its sweet.”
Now this is one of most anticipated books of 2018 and I was lucky enough to receive an arc copy from Ebury publishing, so thank you very much for sending me an arc. I also have a hardback edition to giveaway so read till the end to know how to enter. I loved the first book in the series, although I had initially thought that it was a standalone, so I was very excited at the prospect of a sequel. I thought this was a fantastic continuation of this trilogy and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of reading it. This sequel has everything I loved about the first book but it felt like Vasya had grown as a character and it was so easy to slip back into this world. This development felt completely natural and it was great to see her become a little more mature. I liked that this growth is very gradual but at the same time you can clearly see her spirit remains very similar to what it was in book 1. Her character is definitely one of my favourite things about this trilogy, although Morozko is also a contender for favourite character. We also have some fantastic secondary characters in this book and the villain is so well written. Arden does a fantastic job at creating characters that you really become invested in. All of the characters in this book are wonderful; they are all complex, they all have flaws and it’s just a pleasure to read about them all.
The world of this book is so atmospheric and vivid. You almost feel like you are in this wintery Russian world, which is great because I love this world. The writing makes it so easy to become fully immersed in this world. I think reading it in the winter is a good idea because of the atmosphere created in this book – you’ll feel even more immersed in the world. I don’t read a lot of books set in medieval Russia so this world is a refreshing change to the worlds I see in other fantasy books. Arden does a wonderful job at blending history with the fantasy elements. Details of everyday life are dotted throughout and add to the realism of the world, while the fantasy elements are woven so well they add a fantastic sense of a fairy tale to the story. I also loved that we got to see Moscow in this instalment, whereas with the first book we were very much focused in the countryside. The world is definitely one of my favourites at the moment. In terms of the plot, this sequel picks up soon after the events of book 1 and continues the story of Vasilisa (or Vasya), a young woman very much constricted by the world in which she lives. I loved that we were throw straight back into the story as I think it made it easier to get into the flow of it again. The plot is compelling throughout and I found it hard to put down once I’d started reading. This story definitely has more of a sense of urgency and so a little more fast paced then the first book, but I think that really worked with the story. I am always a bit cautious when reading a sequel as some second books are just not as good as the first, but that is not the case with this one. If anything I think this sequel was better as Arden become more comfortable and confident with the world and characters.
How to enter the giveaway: Unfortunately this will be UK only, so if you live in the UK comment down below that you want to enter and leave a way for me to contact you – an email address or your twitter handle so I can message you. If you don’t want to enter here then check out my Twitter for the giveaway tweet. Thank you to Ebury publishing for sending me a copy to giveaway. Ends 31st January.
If you can’t tell I absolutely loved this book and I can’t recommend it highly enough, I think this sequel is a little more sure-footed then it’s predecessor, which really tells you how much I enjoyed it. I am so excited for the third and final book, The Winter of the Witch, which I think has a tentative August 2018 release date (this could change). If you enjoy fantasy with a fairy tale feel to them or want to try some fantasy set in Russian then I highly recommend checking this out. This book was just as good as the first book, if not better, so if you enjoyed the first you will probably love this book too. Have you started this series yet? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.