2018 Book #2 – The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

51wY6en8tdL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Girl in the Tower
Author: Katherine Arden
Date finished: 1/8/18
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, magical realism, fairy tale
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Pages in book: 342
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Winternight Trilogy
Where I got the book from: Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A remarkable young woman blazes her own trail, from the backwoods of Russia to the court of Moscow, in the exhilarating sequel to Katherine Arden’s bestselling debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale.

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.

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This action-packed fairy tale was an intriguing, and at some points dark, story of a young woman coming into her full potential. Vasilisa (Vasya for short) sets off on a journey and ends up involved in another other-world plot of doom. Along the way she finds her feelings for Morozko, the frost demon, growing unexpectedly. The beginning of this book I found a little hard to delve into. Even after I enjoyed the first book in the trilogy so much, the beginning of this book jumped right back into the story and it took me a minute to remember where we had left off. After I was able to get back with the story though, I couldn’t put this down. Once you’re able to push past the first approx. 50 pages of the book, it just drags you right into this other world of magic and snow and danger. The narratives in this novel are amazingly descriptive without being overly wordy (in my opinion) and, while at times the story is quite dense, the text includes a wealth of details that really enrich the story line and the world created to transport the reader. The author really brings the magic alive in this book  and creates some heart-pounding action scenes as well.

I just have to say too, I think this series would move SUCH an AMAZING movie series if it was done correctly. Vasya’s vibrancy contrasting with the stark, snowy wilderness and also the bustling metropolis of Moscow would be an amazing picture to see on the big screen.

I thought this was an amazing book and a great continuation of the story line. I can’t wait to see where the author takes us in the conclusion of the trilogy, The Winter of the Witch, coming in August 2018.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #37 – The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

515qNGaUTcLTitle: The Bear and the Nightingale
Author: Katherine Arden
Date finished: 4/24/17
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, magical realism
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Book #1 of trilogy
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Vasilisa Vladimirovich, a girl born with the second sight, whose mother dies right after childbirth. Her father, Pyotr, loved her mother, Marina, fiercely and was devastated when she died. And it made him angry that Marina knew this child would most likely kill her and she chose to have it anyways. Vasya is a sweet and generous child though, and it is almost impossible not to love her. As she grows she learns the ways of her land and learns from the different magical creatures that haunt the stables and the house. As she grows older though she is in danger from a shadow in the forest, and as the old ways are forgotten for fear of God, the whole village is in danger of the Bear devil in the forest.
Overall I really liked this book a lot. The Russian terms made the story a little harder to get into at first but once I was engaged with the story line I didn’t want to put it down. It was a beautifully woven fairy tale with just enough of the fantastical to make it feel perfectly magical. Vasya was fierce and brave, I loved her character. The plot line was thrilling and filled with danger and excitement. I’m excited to see where the story will take us in the next installment of the trilogy.

The bottom line: I loved this book. While it took a little time to get into the story, it turned out to be an utterly captivating story and I can’t wait to read more.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page