The Girl in the Tower is the second in the Winternight Trilogy, after the acclaimed debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale. It’s always hard to talk about sequels without giving too much away about the preceding books, so forgive me if I’m vague. One advantage to waiting so long to read The Bear and the Nightingale was that I got to jump straight into the sequel! Now I have to several months for the third.
The Girl in the Tower revisits our heroine, Vasya, from the first book. Now she has left home to begin her adventures – though her travels are curtailed pretty quickly, and she’s roped into going to Moscow with her brother and the Grand Prince, while disguised as a boy. While in Moscow she learns a little bit more about her family history, and I’m hoping the rest will be revealed in the third book this summer. (The Winter of the Witch is scheduled to release in August 2018.)
In this second book, Vasya has done some growing, and has learned to make use of the spirits she sees – she knows the hearth spirits can always find their families, and uses that trait to track a kidnapped girl when no one else can. So long as no one realizes what she’s doing, she’s fine. But Rus is in the crossover period between the old ways and the new, and if she’s found talking to spirits, she’ll be branded a witch all over again. She keeps her masquerade going through the first two-thirds of the book, but it’s obvious it’s going to fail eventually. The way in which it does is sudden and unexpected, and the repercussions are harsh.
And then there’s Morozko, the Frost Demon, the god of death. I love Morozko. He’s by necessity enigmatic – and in a rough position. I want he and Vasya to fall in love and have a happy ending – the attraction between them is impossible to miss – but immortal beings, in this world, can’t love. If they love they lose their immortality. And, possibly, their lives entirely. I hope the author has a solution in mind for these two, because I currently don’t see one.
I actually liked this one more than the first book, which is unusual. I liked the first one, but I wasn’t blown away. This one pulled me in and didn’t let me go. Amazing sequel, and I hope the third one lives up to this standard!
From the cover of The Girl in the Tower:
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.