The Girl In The Tower by Katherine Arden
Published by Del Rey
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, YA
For fans of: Uprooted, Joan of Arc, Sweeping dark fantasy that isn’t afraid to take its time.
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues 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 life 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.
It isn’t often that this happens to me, but I think I loved this book a smidge more than I liked the first one.
When I read The Bear And The Nightingale earlier this year, I was sure it was going to be one of my favorite reads of 2017. And y’know what? It’s December now, and it turns out my prediction was accurate. I’ve read the book twice.
The Bear and The Nightingale has everything I love in my fantasy novels. A spirited, strong willed heroine, a grumpy love interest, an animal sidekick, magic, folklore, a dash of romance, and a touch of darkness. The Girl in The Tower, I’m happy to report, is exactly the same way.
The sequel picks up immediately where the first book left off, with Vasya branded a witch and fleeing her village with Solovey, intent on being free – on seeing the world, even if it means disguising herself as a boy to do it.
Where the first book was a lot more… folktale-y, The Girl In The Tower reads distinctly more adventure-fantasy. Vasya’s decision to become a traveler leads her to reunite with her sister Olga and her brother Sasha, where she eventually gets mixed up in a world of politics, scandal, and old-world misogyny. As you do.
The book progressed pretty much the same way as its predecessor. Slow, and easy. If there’s one thing I love about Arden’s writing (and there are many things to love) it’s how she’s not afraid to take her time. She paces her books so carefully, it’s incredible. She sets up slowly, and lets the story unfold at its natural pace and then quickens during the conclusion, until you’re left stunned and desperately wanting more.
It’s so good.
The world building in this series is fantastic. Even with Vasya moving out of her little village, Arden manages to build upon the foundations she’d already laid with the first book – expanding the Winternight world until it feel so real. Her ability to seamlessly weave folkore, fantasy and history together give this world a realness that I really haven’t seen before. If you told me that Vasya was real and really went through the things she went through, I’d be compelled to believe you.
I’m going to stop talking now. I could go on forever, but I don’t want to say too much and spoil the book for you guys. What I will tell you that The Girl In The Tower was a fantastic sequel to The Bear and The Nightingale. It took the foundations Arden laid with the first book and built them to a whole new level. It was atmospheric, emotional, and epic in every way possible. I am blown away and desperate for the next book.
It comes out on the 5th of December 2017 (in FIVE DAYS!!!!), and if you haven’t already pre-ordered it, I urge you guys to go pick up a copy. I know I will.
Many thanks to the folks over at Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing for letting me read an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This has, in no way, affected my opinion.