ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
1.) The Bear and the Nightingale ★★★★★
“Vasilisa Petrovna, murderer, savior, lost child, rode away from the house in the fir-grove.”
Hi, my name is Melanie and I’m in love with a frost demon. You guys, please stop sleeping on this series. This is the best historical fantasy I’ve ever read in my entire life. And all of the Russian folklore is actual perfection. This is the type of book that reminds me that literature can be tangible pieces of magic, and this book is truly an enchanted masterpiece.
The Girl in the Tower picks up right where The Bear and the Nightingale left off. Vasya is leaving the only home she has ever known, and has chosen to see the world that is beyond the forest that surrounds her family’s home.
And since it is absolutely unheard of for a girl to go exploring the world on her own, and since the ways of men can be cruel to a girl traveling alone, Vasya disguises herself as a boy and ventures out to see what the world has to offer. Well, unfortunately, Vasya soon finds that the world has to offer many cruelties, and some of the surrounding forest towns have been burned down and had their young daughters stolen away.
Vasya can’t help but want to save these people that remind her so much of her own village back home. And soon her path crosses with her older brother, Sasha, who has devoted his life to God, and her older sister Olga, who has devoted her life to motherhood after wedding a prince. Vasya hasn’t seen either of these siblings for ten years, so it’s quite a reunion to say the least. And Vasya soon finds out that her niece is much more like her than the world would want.
We are also very quickly thrown into the world of Moscow, where political intrigue and betrayal is vast. Vasya is forced to masquerade as a boy in a city that is unlike anything she’s ever experienced while living in the safety of her forest. And even winter can’t protect her, because spring is arriving sooner and sooner every day.
“You cannot take vengeance on a whole people because of the doings of a few wicked men.”
This book is so atmospheric! You will breathe in the cold, you will taste the food, you will break from the heartache, but you will feel the magic inside of this story. I truly believe this book is on parallel with none for atmosphere. The descriptions are lush, and gorgeous, and make me believe Katherine Arden’s words truly are written with sorcery.
And the characters are some of my absolute favorites, bar none. How am I so in love with a brooding frost demon, a sassy stallion, a brand-new ghost, and every single small-folk who reside in all the different ovens and bathhouses in Russia? On top of Vasya being one of the best female protagonists every to be created. I’m so enthralled, so captivated, and so invested in everyone’s story. Somehow, Katherine Arden has woven the entire cast into my heart and soul and I want to protect them all at all costs.
“Do you think that is all I want, in all my life—a royal dowry, and a man to force his children into me?”
And this book is so wonderfully feminist! Give me all the books about girls choosing themselves and their wants for their own future. Like, this entire series is about a girl who doesn’t want to fit into women’s gender-norm for this time period. She is proud to be different, she doesn’t care what other’s say, and she always listens to her heart. She’s knows that being brave is more important than being beautiful. She knows that being smart is more important that being subservient. And she knows that being a woman doesn’t make her lesser than being a man. And all of these themes are constant throughout the novel.
“…An aging woman, magnificent and solitary, whose tower door never opened, who would make her daughter a proper maiden but never count the cost.”
Vasya wants to explore, and go on adventures, and see the world, rather than getting married, having children, and managing a household. But Vasya never shames that life choice/path, she just knows that it isn’t for her. And even when she feels like she has the whole world against her, Vasya never backs down or changes who she is. I could honestly write a thesis, a book of my own, and a freakin’ sonnet to how much Vasya Petrovna means to me.
“Perhaps I will die here, as others have died. But I will not die your creature.”
I loved this book with the sum of my being. This book is so very powerful, and I can’t even find the words to express how much this series means to me. The Winter of the Witch is easily my most anticipated release of 2018 now. This series is such a magical treat, and I hope you all do yourselves a favor and pick it up. Just make sure you are prepared for the ultimate winter wonderland, that doesn’t hold back from heartbreak.
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.