The Girl In The Tower (Winternight Trilogy #2) - Katherine Arden
My Review - 5 Stars
Vasya is stuck between a rock and a hard place. She has few options, at least none that she’d want. She decides to flee, instead of settling for marriage or becoming a nun, and finds herself at the door of the frost demon’s home.
Morozco, the frost demon, is one of my favorite parts of this series. Can you fall for a frost demon? All I know is I sure have. He is limited by his role and his immortality and even magic itself but something about Vasya stirs feelings in him and I loved how he wrestles with this.
This book marks a new aspect to Vasya’s relationship to him. Whereas they danced around a possible romance in The Bear And The Nightingale (which you must read first), here they start to explore it. But what hope of a future can a girl and a frost demon have together? Once winter ends, he’ll go away until it returns. And anyway, Vasya wants adventure and freedom. No matter her confused feelings about Morozco, she sees marriage as something that will chain her down.
Understandably so. This second book makes it even more clear how limited the options are for girls and women, especially in Moscow. There’s no hiding from the sexism and misogyny that permeates the culture and whereas most people say, “this is just the way it is,” Vasya refuses to accept it. She wants to travel and explore and to have a future of her own determination. She takes more and more ownership of her life and in the process, she gains a better understanding of who she is and what her gifts are.
Morozco advises her to disguise herself as a boy while traveling so she’ll stay safe and this leads to the kind of adventures and battles she’d never even imagined. She is ultimately reunited with her brother and sister, who are scandalized by her disguise even if they admire what she was able to accomplish. But she’s still expected to toe the line, no matter the troubles surrounding the Grand Prince of Moscow or how she can help. This was so frustrating to see! I wanted Vasya to get the recognition and admiration she deserved, not in spite of being a girl but because of it.
I really enjoyed The Bear And The Nightingale but Girl In The Tower exceeded my hopes for where Arden would take her story. Vasya and Morozco are such compelling characters in and of themselves. Neither can be fully contained, albeit for different reasons, and Vasya’s burgeoning awareness of her strengths and abilities was marvelous. I loved how they were connected to one another, how they didn’t fully understand how they should relate to each other and whether there could or should be something more. Nothing is really as it seems in this world and that adds another layer of intrigue to the whole story. Plus, I continue to love how Russian fairy tales and folklore are woven in.
Arden again explores the divide between good and evil, the power of love, and the importance of women having ownership in their lives and futures. The feminism permeating the pages was so empowering. The character growth was incredible and I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens to Vasya and Morozco next.
The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues 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.
Buy The Book Here:
Disclosure: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links included in this post.