Snapshot Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Title: The Girl in the Tower
Author: Katherine Arden
Series: Winternight Trilogy, #2
Pages: 633
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: December 5th 2017

      “The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.
      Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.”

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“Morozko stilled beneath her glance. This was not the frost-demon, this was his other, older self, black-cloaked, pale, long-fingered.  He was here for the dead. Suddenly the sunlight seemed muted. She felt his presence in the blood on the earth, in the touch of the cold air on his face, old and still and strong.”

  • Vasya – Vasya continues to be a character who I admire. She is brave in a world that isn’t kind to young women who want the freedom to determine their own fate.
  • The writing – Katherine Arden once again dazzles with her writing. I’m continually impressed with her ability to weave several smaller tales while also telling a much bigger story.
  • Sibling relationships – As Vasya is reunited with both her older brother Sasha and older sister Olga, we see how their relationships have shifted. Though they may have tolerated her high-spirited behavior when she was a child, they see a real danger in the wild woman she has grown up to be.
  • Magical elements – Vasya has been labeled a witch by many because of her ability to see these creatures from old. I loved this part of the world-building in this series so much and though the novel is rooted in the “real world”, it is these glimpses that has always captivated me.

  • Pacing – There were times where the story felt like it dragged a little. I know I should have expected it because much like the first novel, Arden slowly unravel her story. Her set-up is very deliberate, but can make me as a reader feel impatient.
  • More Morozko – I wish we had more scenes with the frost-demon, though I understand why Arden wrote him in such an enigmatic way.

  • Fans of Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale will continue to be impressed with The Girl in the Tower. If you enjoy novels that combine historical fiction and fantasy, this is a series that should be high on your TBR.