fantasy · Young adult

The Girl in the Tower – Katherine Arden ★★★★

Blurb; 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.

My Review; The Girl in the Tower is book two in the Winternight trilogy, best read in order. I loved the first one so had high expectations for book two. However, I must say I prefered book one. This one dragged a little for me personally and it was going to be a three star review until the last 100 pages. Boy did it pick up then and get me excited and flicking the pages.

We see most of the characters in book one in this story with the main character Vasya yet again causing more trouble while trying to be a hero. But the end was worth it all. I can’t wait to see what happens in the final book of the trilogy. I need answers. Because of the end it deserves the four stars. I have seen from other reviews that other readers didn’t enjoy this quite as much as the first too, so I am not alone. Is there anything Vasya can’t do?

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Fairytale Retelling · fantasy

The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Ardin ★★★★

Blurb; At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

My Review; This is the first in the Winternight Trilogy, it is a retelling of a fairytale but one which I haven’t heard of before. It had me hooked, it was a real page turner for me and a great read! We got to see little Vasilisa grow throughout the story into a confident and brave young women.

There is plenty going on throughout the story to keep the reader intrigued and it hots up towards the end which thinking about it, was quite a sad ending overall with some hard losses.

A different story for me I wouldn’t class it as high fantasy but there is some fantasy involved to get your imagination going… Throughally enjoyed it. A well deserved four stars from me and I can’t wait to read the rest of this trilogy. Highly recommend. Also it has a beautiful cover.

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