Title: The Girl in the Tower
Series: Winternight Trilogy
Genre: Fantasy, Folklore
Author: Katherine Arden
Source: ARC provided by the Penguin Random House
The magical adventure began 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 live 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.
When I had read the first book in the ‘Winternight’ series by Katherine Arden (The Bear and the Nightingale –Read Review), I was totally captivated by the mesmerizing world around Vasya. I kept reminiscing about those snow-laden landscapes and Vasya’s encounters for days after.
So one can understand my joyous feeling when I was provided with a chance to review Arden’s second book of the series. Putting my TBR aside (sorry dearest TBR, catch you later), I jumped onto this without any second thoughts. 🙂
Magnificent Writing Style:
Katherine Arden’s writing style has certain magnetism in it. Whenever I start reading her books, I step into the bubble of Arden’s magical world. It is such a fascinating experience that words are just not enough to describe. Especially, those snow-covered landscapes! Ah! That enchanting, beautiful, sparkling snow… I have read many books describing snow bound terrains but never-ever I had the feeling of being transported there till I read Arden. Her descriptive skills just hit the mark at the centre. Bang On!!
The story has a nice flow, interesting plots, and refined characters. In this second instalment of the series, the mythical beings (old and new) continued to amaze me. In addition to this, the exemplary way Arden entwines the social issues within this amazing fantasy is something to look out for. The topic of Gender Inequality in the time period of the story was indeed a kind of social drawback.
After reading the prologue, I eagerly turned the page to read the first chapter. Rubbing my hands, I was excited to meet Vasya again, but to my surprise, I stumbled upon Olga. Initially, I was annoyed as Olga’s life in Moscow didn’t hold any charm for me because I was longing to go with Vasya on her adventurous journey. But as I read, I realized the author’s intention of laying it out as the base for the whole forthcoming tale. So, although the start of the book was a little slow and dry, it was worth reading.
Free Spirited Vasya:
It is Vasya’s life which has always left me spell-bound. It may sound a little childish but I was skimming through the pages of this book, looking for Vasya, like a parent searching for her lost child in a fair. Somehow this character has become very close to my heart. I often ask myself that why do I like this character so much. Is it because the girl is brave and smart? Is it because she can communicate with the mythical creatures? Or is it because of the fairy-tale scenario of a strong mythical creature falling in love with a human girl? The answer is No, No and No. The quality which draws me to her is her sheer doggedness to survive on her own terms. Her love for life and stubbornness to live it like the way she wants is something which I cherish. Vasya is not a very smart girl. She takes many wrong decisions in her course of the journey, without thinking about the consequences or planning it out properly. But in spite of all the hardships, she still chooses her free will over and over again.
Among all the action, mystery and thrill rolling within the book… for me, the main highlight was the intense chemistry between Vasya and Morozko. The equation, described by Arden, between Morozko and Vasya is something to die for. The bottled up emotions, their longing for each other, the facial expressions when they are with each other, the unsaid words in between them… just melt your heart. How they wish to be with each other and yet cannot! Arden has done such a remarkable work with these two characters.
All in all, The Girl in the Towerby Katherine Arden is a well-balanced book, with all the essential elements in the right proportion. No wonder it makes such a fantabulous read.
Have you read Winternight Series? What do you think about The Girl in the Tower?