The Girl in the Tower
by Katherine Arden
eARC, 305 pages
Published January 25th 2018 by Del Rey
For a young woman in medieval Russia, the choices are stark: marriage or a life in a convent. Vasya will choose a third way: magic…
The court of the Grand Prince of Moscow is plagued by power struggles and rumours of unrest. Meanwhile bandits roam the countryside, burning the villages and kidnapping its daughters. Setting out to defeat the raiders, the Prince and his trusted companion come across a young man riding a magnificent horse.
Only Sasha, a priest with a warrior’s training, recognises this ‘boy’ as his younger sister, thought to be dead or a witch by her village. But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, Sasha realises he must keep her secret as she may be the only way to save the city from threats both human and fantastical…
“Come in Vasya,” the man said. “It is cold.”
YOU GUYS. You have no idea how much I love this series! THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE was my best read in 2017 and I’m worried that the second book will not have the same magical feeling, but IT’S STILL PRETTY MUCH PERFECT and I can’t write coherent review now because all I want to do is gushing about this book!!!1! However, if I could describe this series in a word, it’s got to be MAGICAL.
Things I Like
- The setting
Obviously it is not an accurate representation as Anastasia is set during the Russia revolution and this book is in medieval Rus, however if you love the opulence and magic you saw in Anastasia, this book managed to portray it more than that! Since Vasya is running away from her home, she spend a lot of time in Russian wilderness before getting into Moscow. Through this book, you can feel the harsh environment of Russia’s winter in contrast through the opulence and grandeur of Moscow.
Our favorite frost demon. He definitely has more page time here and we can see more of his display of power here! I enjoyed every scene he has, I love him that much! I truly ship him and Vasya and though we have some hints here and there, nothing is certain…. yet.
- The plot
Um honestly there’s nothing much happening in this book… in fact the first and the second part is pretty slow paced. But I love the way this book unfolds because it gives myself some time to get back to the world and terms and remember what happened in the previous book. Also the slow pacing allow us to adjust to the difference between the wilderness and Moscow. The rest of the plot is predictable, I can see the ending however, I couldn’t see HOW it would get there, so watching the story unfolds is still exciting even though I know the ending.
- The cover
I mean…. look at it. The UK cover has a lot of details while the US cover has a beautiful color palette.
- Familial relationship
The events in Lesnaya Zemlya, especially the consequences towards Vasya’s family, still haunts Vasya in this book. We also see familiar faces from the first book, but more importantly, we got Aleksandr and Olga more in this book. Obviously they are wondering how Vasya could come to where she was at that point and admittedly, Vasya is not an easy sibling to take care of. Not to mention the social constraint and expectations at that time, which stifles Vasya and the public eyes that follow the siblings… However, they do not give up on each other easily and trust each other. I love seeing how close they are, especially Vasya and Aleksandr, and how Olga serves as the mother figure for Vasya.
Things I do not like
- Vasya’s strong headed-ness
In the first book, her strong headedness is useful in protecting herself and her village, because losing herself means she will lose her village and family. However in this book, her strong headedness and refusal to compromise meant Sasha’s, Olga and her children’s head. She is a girl parading around as a boy, getting into the Grand Prince inner circle from some unknown northern village. Obviously there are people around who’s love to destroy her but oh no, she couldn’t keep her head down, doesn’t hear any advice given, and refuse to do anything if it’s not by her way. It’s really frustating to watch her acting like a petulant child while there are more at stake here rather than her family and village. I hope she learned her lesson but judging at where she is at the end of the book, I don’t think so.
- The ending
It was so abrupt? I was reading and when I turn the page it’s suddenly acknowledgement…. I really wish there was more resolution and story of the aftermath rather than ending it where it was.
Overall? This book lives up to my expectations and more. Sure it has some frustrating part, but considered the middle-book syndrome second books usually have in most of trilogies, this is the least severe case I’ve read. It is magical yes, filled with Russian setting and folktales, magic and war, bravery and strong family ties. This is an amazing book and I can’t wait to read the final book!
I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.