Writer: Katherine Arden
Publishing House: Penguin Random House
Date of Publication: December 5th 2017
‘’Think of me sometimes’’, he returned, ‘’When the snowdrops have bloomed and the snow has melted.’’
Moving on to the 2nd book of the trilogy immediately after finishing the 1st volume was a no-brainer and from the very first pages, I knew that this would prove to be an exciting journey. Well, ‘’exciting’’ is an understatement actually. In my opinion, this was a rollercoaster of images, of characters and emotions. It was better than that the 1st part of the Winternight series and its atmosphere was more ‘’Russian’’, more faithful to the original legend, more authentic.
In the rare cases in which I have dedicated my reading time to a trilogy, I’ve found that the 2nd book is usually my favourite. It happened with ‘’The Lord of the Rings’’ and with the Grisha Trilogy.So, ‘’The Girl in the Tower’’ was no exception. We delve right into action from the opening pages and continue in a whirlwind, because Arden achieves a much-needed balance between the action parts, the interactions of the characters and the descriptions of the life in the rural communities and the glorious city of Moscow. The lavishness of the capital juxtaposed with the threats that are lurking in the frozen woods is beautifully executed. In fact, I have nothing but praise for Arden’s writing in this installment.
What I really appreciated is the fact that Arden doesn’t dwell much in the events of the 1st part and prefers to refer to them occasionally and in context with the current events and their implications. After all, it wouldn’t be wise to start a trilogy from the 2nd part. She is a really capable writer and her writing here is mature, engaging and haunting, fully doing justice to the beautiful wintry fairy tales from the land of the Rus.There is not a single trace of YA tropes and norms in this novel, and despite the extensive presence of characters of a world beyond our own, this reads more like a Historical Fiction book, rather than a fantasy. The elements of legends are here, but they are finely woven into the narration and they are part of the action, not mere gimmicks. There is a beautiful reference to the Snow-Maiden, the fairytales that provided the inspiration for Eowyn Ivey’s masterpiece ‘’The Snow Child’’ . You’ll read about the Firebird, the horse with the golden mane, the goddesses of Morning, Midday and Midnight, the Gamayun and many familiar Russian mythical figures. I also have to say that I was impressed with the way Arden treated the Tatars’ raids subplot. Without being too graphic, she creates a shadow that looms over our heroine and over the residents of the country. The shadow of a threat that is far more real than any demons or evil spirits.
The characters are extremely well-written. Vasya is more mature, but no less intelligent, feisty, brave and kind than we knew her. Still, the complications that come from experiencing certain disturbing feelings may weigh down on her. Morozko’s presence is electrifying, a larger-than- life figure and a battlefield in which the man and the immortal try to prevail against each other. The moments between him and Vasya are the highlights of the novel. We meet a few new characters and come to know certain previously introduced ones even better, but I’d be thoughtless if I didn’t mention Sergei, a monk who is Sasha’s mentor and a wonderful character that really stood out. Olya, on the other hand, was too irritating for my troubled patience…
So, those of you who have read the 1st book, don’t tally:) Read the 2nd volume as soon as you can, because you don’t want to miss the experience. I loved this book, you know. I really, really loved it. As a Historical Fiction, as a beautiful fairytale, as an avid reader and lover of Russian Folk tradition and Literature. This is a book that celebrates womanhood, love, the fight to surpass the obstacles and remain true to your principles…
‘’You are immortal, and perhaps I seem small to you’’, she said at last fiercely. ‘’But my life is not your game.’’
Many thanks to Penguin Random House and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange of an honest review.