A remarkable young woman blazes her own trail, from the backwoods of Russia to the court of Moscow, in the exhilarating sequel to Katherine Arden’s bestselling debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale.
Katherine Arden’s enchanting first novel introduced readers to an irresistible heroine. Vasilisa has grown up at the edge of a Russian wilderness, where snowdrifts reach the eaves of her family’s wooden house and there is truth in the fairy tales told around the fire. Vasilisa’s gift for seeing what others do not won her the attention of Morozko—Frost, the winter demon from the stories—and together they saved her people from destruction. But Frost’s aid comes at a cost, and her people have condemned her as a witch.
Now Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, the only options left for her are marriage or the convent. She cannot bring herself to accept either fate and instead chooses adventure, dressing herself as a boy and setting off astride her magnificent stallion Solovey.
But after Vasilisa prevails in a skirmish with bandits, everything changes. The Grand Prince of Moscow anoints her a hero for her exploits, and she is reunited with her beloved sister and brother, who are now part of the Grand Prince’s inner circle. She dares not reveal to the court that she is a girl, for if her deception were discovered it would have terrible consequences for herself and her family. Before she can untangle herself from Moscow’s intrigues—and as Frost provides counsel that may or may not be trustworthy—she will also confront an even graver threat lying in wait for all of Moscow itself.
Praise for The Girl in the Tower
“[A] magical story set in an alluring Russia.”—Paste
“Arden’s lush, lyrical writing cultivates an intoxicating, visceral atmosphere, and her marvelous sense of pacing carries the novel along at a propulsive clip. A masterfully told story of folklore, history, and magic with a spellbinding heroine at the heart of it all.”—Booklist (starred review)
“[A] sensual, beautifully written, and emotionally stirring fantasy . . . Fairy tales don’t get better than this.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[Katherine] Arden once again delivers an engaging fantasy that mixes Russian folklore and history with delightful worldbuilding and lively characters.”—Library Journal
Arden builds on the considerable promise of 2017's The Bear and the Nightingale with this moving continuation of Vasilisa "Vasya" Petrovna's journey across 14th-century Russia after the death of her father. Determined not to marry or wither away at a convent, Vasya, disguised as a young man, sets out on her magnificent horse to see the world. Bandits are burning villages and kidnapping young girls across the Russian countryside, and Vasya's rescue of three of those girls leads her to the Lavra, where she finds her brother, who is now a monk called Brother Aleksandr, and the Grand Prince of Moscow, Dmitrii Ivanovich. After a battle with the bandits, they set off for Moscow, and Vasya's delight at the unfettered freedom that her disguise affords her among Moscow's exciting sights and sounds is tempered by a plot to unseat Dmitrii and the awakening of her magical powers. Vasya is a remarkable heroine, strong of will and sharp of mind, and her stark realization that her desire for freedom may have consequences for those she loves adds a layer to this sensual, beautifully written, and emotionally stirring fantasy. Fairy tales don't get better than this.
A Feisty Heroine and Lovely Prose
What a fun read. The descriptions of place, people, and events draw you into the beauty, savagery, and magic of 14th Century Russia. The Characters are well drawn and you care about the good ones and are glad to see the bad ones get what they deserve. A fast paced adventure story that puts you into the action. Loved it.
A splendid second book
“Sister, the truth,” said Sasha again. Vasya swallowed, licked her lips and thought, I was saved from my dead nurse by a frost-demon, who gave me my horse and kissed me in the firelight. Can I say that? To my brother the monk? “I cannot tell you all of it,” she whispered. “I barely understand all of it myself.”
This story, which starts soon after The Bear and the Nightingale, moves away from Lesnaya Zemlya, beginning in Moscow, where the Christian/Orthodox God is more present than in the woods and the old religion gods aren’t as prevalent. The story is again focused on Vasya, her trusty stead Solovey and of course the elusive Morozko. Vasya in part has left her home and she and Solovey are off to see the world, and are soon in the middle of a political war. But she doesn’t back down, and the maturity and growth she shows in the midst of all of this is wonderful. Morozko, everyone’s favorite anti-hero has a bigger part in this as well. Vasya’s choices could effect his place in the old order.
I have to tell you, I have chosen The Bear and the Nightingale my personal Best Book of 2017, and as much as I looked forward to this book from NetGalley, I was afraid that it wouldn’t be as good. I love that a book built on the tales of Russian lore begins with a story, and not one with a happy, but one with a tragic ending and interpretation. It will take me a while to fully integrate the story. Arden has infused this second of the Winternight Trilogy with the same perception changing magic as the first book. The Girl in the Tower could be read as a stand alone, however I highly suggest you read the first as well as we await the last of the trilogy,The Winter Witch. 5/5
The Girl in the Tower is a fascinating fantasy that takes place in Russia during the medieval times.
Vasya Petrovna was a free-spirited woman, on the run. It was rumored that she was a witch. Her father tried to marry her off, but Vasya wanted nothing to do with marriage. She also had no interest in becoming a nun. So, Vasya decided to dress as a boy, adopt the male version of her name, Vasilii, for herself, and gallop off into the woods, on a magic horse. Running into her brother Sasha, and her cousin, Dmitrii, the Grand Prince of Moscow, complicated matters, though. Sasha was reluctant to play along with his sister’s ruse, but did so, for safety’s sake. He knew, however, that if the Prince discovered her deceit, things would not go well for her.
Much to Sasha’s dismay, his sister, Vasya, now, Vasilii, was joining them in the fight against the bandits, who were destroying Russian lives. Young girls were being kidnapped, families slaughtered, and villages burned to the ground. War was something that was now unavoidable.
The Girl in the Tower is an intriguing novel, well-written and captivating. I would suggest reading, book one in the series, The Bear and the Nightingale, first, though. I had a difficult time, especially in the beginning, following this novel, but wouldn’t have; I’m sure if I had already read the first book.
Thank you, Del Rey Publishing and NetGalley, for my advanced review copy.