Book Review: The Winter of the Witch

winter of the witchThe Winter of the Witch
by Katherine Arden
Fantasy
372 pages
Published January 2019

The Winter of the Witch is the conclusion to the Winternight trilogy that began with The Bear and The Nightingale (enjoyable, but a little overhyped) and continued in The Girl in the Tower (fantastic). And ooooohhh what a conclusion it is! Vasya truly comes into her own in this book, dealing with the Russian fae with a confidence and conviction she didn’t quite have before. The war between the twin brother spirits – the Bear and the Winter King – comes to a head, with Vasya in the middle. While that war is heating up, so is the war between the Tatars and the Russians, with its climax in a version of the real-world Battle of Kulikovo.

The whole of Vasya’s family history is finally revealed, which has surprises of its own. Previously unknown family members appear, and Vasya is no longer as alone in her powers as she thought she was.

It can be very hard to review books in a series – especially concluding books – without spoiling things, so I’ll just say this was an epic conclusion to the trilogy and was just as enchanting as the other books. I cried at more than one point in this book, because Vasya’s heartbreak is so poignant. Gorgeous book. Beautiful use of Russian mythology. This entire trilogy is just brilliant.

From the cover of The Winter of the Witch:

Reviewers called Katherine Arden’s novels The Bear and The Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower “lyrical,” “emotionally stirring,” and “utterly bewitching.” The Winternight Trilogy introduced an unforgettable heroine, Vasilisa Petrovna, a girl determined to forge her own path in a world that would rather lock her away. Her gifts and her courage have drawn the attention of Morozko, the winter-king, but it is too soon to know if this connection will prove a blessing or a curse.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers – and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

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