The Girl in the Tower – Katherine Arden
Release Date: January 2018
Synopsis: 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.
Review: Oh how I love this series. Once you get past the onslaught of people with what seems like five different names and Russian vocab, you’re golden. The first book, The Bear and the Nightingale, was the same and I suspect book three will be too. It’s just Arden’s style and it takes some getting used to. But once you do? You’re hooked.
I think one of the reasons I love The Winternight Trilogy as much as I do is because our heroine, Vasya, is not motivated by romance or love, as heroines often are. She’s driven by an inherent sense of good and of what’s right. All she wants is her freedom, to “see Russia,” to do what she wants to do and not to be bound to a house and children, cooking and tending to her brood all day. A reasonable desire these days, not so much in long-ago-Russia.
Essentially, Vasya is a badass. She disguises herself as a boy in order to help the townsfolk in a village that has been ravaged by mysterious marauders who leave no trace. And while Vasya clearly doesn’t need a man, a man is unfortunately her downfall, just not in the way you’d think.
Magic, myth and Russian folktales come together in The Girl in the Tower to create a bitterly freezing but enchanted world worth Vasya risking it all to save it.