The Winter of the Witch / Katherine Arden

Title / The Winter of the Witch
Author / Katherine Arden
Publication Date / January 2019
Series or standalone / book 3 of 3
Page no. / 384
Overall Rating / ★★
This is the third and final book in the Winternight trilogy. It resumes directly after the events of the second book, The Girl in the Tower. As with the previous books, this sequel is influenced by Russian folklore and is partly set in Moscow. Once again, we follow Vasilisa “Vasya” Petrovna, a young girl trying to find her place in medieval Russia. In this world folklore creatures exist but they are slowly dying as people turn to the church instead of them. To avoid spoilers, I will not be going into detail on the plot as this is the last book in a trilogy. It is one of my most anticipated book releases of 2019.
 
The first two books were fantastic, so I had high hopes for this conclusion and it did not disappoint. Once again Arden has woven together a compelling story, fantastic characters and an atmospheric world. From the very beginning, I knew that I was going to love this one as much as the previous two books. The stakes are higher in this instalment and you are thrown straight back into the action. The plot kept me gripped all the way through and once I started reading, I didn’t want to put the book down. This instalment pulls no punches and Arden manages to take the plot to unexpected places. It was fantastic to see how everything fell into place in this conclusion, after all the build up of the first two books. The pacing is definitely a little faster than the previous two books and it pulls you through the story at quite a rapid pace. Once again, the writing is fantastic, and I found it so easy to settle into the flow of the story. I will say that there is no recap of past events so if it’s been a while since you read the previous books, it may be best to reread the first and second book before jumping into this one. I had no issues re-entering this world, but it may be something to be aware of.
 
The characters are another strength of this book and trilogy as a whole. Arden has created a cast of characters that are full of complexity and their development in this instalment was so well done. Vasya is a fantastic protagonist and Arden has done a great done at developing her character while remaining true to what we know of her from the previous books. We have seen her progress from a young, naïve girl to a strong, independent woman and I loved every second of it. Vasya is now one of my favourite female protagonists. In terms of other characters, this instalment introduces us to some new ones as well as bringing back many familiar faces. Each character is complex and flawed with distinct voices and interesting back stories. I also loved the moral ambiguity of some characters towards of the end of the book, as it raises the question of what is good and bad. It is not so easily defined, and everyone has a bit of both in them. As with the previous books, romance plays a part in the story, but it never takes centre stage and I love that Vasya remains a strong, independent woman alongside her falling in love.
 
Lastly the world is once again vivid and atmospheric. We get to spend some more time in Moscow in this instalment, as well as some new areas of the world. I’ve not read any other fantasy books with a Russian setting, so it is quite refreshing for me. The way Arden has blended medieval Russia with a distinct folklore feel is fantastic as it makes for an atmospheric read that will keep you gripped from beginning to end. Arden has captured the feel of fairytales/folklore so well in this trilogy and I loved that in this instalment we are introduced to more of the magical parts of this world. If you enjoy good world building, then these books will not disappoint you. The world is wonderfully written, and I cannot say enough good things about it. I would love to see more books set in this world.
 
Overall this was an incredible conclusion to this trilogy and I cannot recommend these books enough. The atmospheric and vivid setting is one of the main strengths, along with the well written characters and compelling plot. Each book is just as good as the last, if not better, and they make perfect winter reads. I cannot recommend this book (and trilogy) highly enough. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any future releases by this author and hope to see more of this world. If you are looking for a new fantasy trilogy to start, then I would recommend checking this one out, especially if you enjoy fantasy influenced by folklore. Have you started this trilogy? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

Pippa


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