The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden is the second installment in The Winternight Trilogy. It is not a standalone story. This fantasy novel was first published on December 5, 2017.
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.
In The Girl in the Tower, Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, she has only two options left: 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 she 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.
Vasya is back but this time she's far from home, a weary traveler headed toward the big city. Just like book 1, this book opens with a women telling an old story to her family. Once again, this story will be brought to life as the novel unfolds, but not in the way you expect. Book 2 has more adventure and a little less magic than book 1, but it is still firmly in fantasy territory.
Don't miss the helpful resources at the end of the story, including a glossary and an explanation of the characters many nicknames.
This book is for you if you like:
- Fantasy and Ghost Stories
- Russian Folklore
- Russian History (specifically from the 1300's)
- Mulan vibes and strong, underestimated women
- Romance that isn't smut
Overall, I enjoyed the story. The Chyerti are sadly less prominent than book 1, and I found the pace to move a little more slowly than the first, but overall I found this to be a great read (especially in snowy winter time!). If you're looking for a cozy winter read that isn't cheesy or cutesy you'll love The Winternight Trilogy.