Book Review: The girl in the tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) – Katherine Arden

3 stars

Title: The Girl in the Tower
Author: Katherine Arden
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK
Publication date: January 25th 2018
Genre: Historical fantasy


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…


Warning: don’t read this review if you didn’t read the first book in The Winternight Trilogy and still plan to read it!

First of all, I have to say that I absolutely love the UK edition cover of this book! I think it’s much more beautiful than the US cover. The colours and the art are incredibly beautiful!

This book starts of with Vasya’s sister Olga in Moscow and I have to admit that in the beginning I was completely lost! It took me a while to get back into the story. There where many different story lines and plots that I had forgotten about and the first chapter was a bit of a struggle. That’s probably because I read the first book several months before. But it got better (fieuw), after the first 10% I was completely back in the story and I had no problems with this in the rest of the book.

Overall I loved this one just slightly less than the first book, but it’s a close call. This one was less scary and strange. There were a lot less creepy accents and a lot more action, and like I’ve said before in my earlier reviews; I’m not the biggest fan of action scenes. I missed the atmosphere from the previous book a bit. The eerie scenes in the woods where not really present in The Girl in the Tower. The domovois were still present and there were ghosts and Morozko was still there (I could read a whole book about Morozko! My favourite character without a doubt!), but they were all less present then in the previous book.

One thing I liked better in this book than in the previous is the “relationship” between Vasya and Morozko. In the Bear and the Nightingale, Morozko and Vasya communicated rather stiffly (sometimes a bit too stiffly). And their conversations became a lot more free/normal in The Girl in the Tower. The rest of the characters also had a lot more character development going on, which is always a good thing. Her brother and sister have grown many years older since Vasya last saw them and of course they changed since then. vasya often struggles with their mature behaviour because she remembers them as the playful brother and sister she often played with in the woods as a child.

Overall this book went in a completely different way than I expected it to go. It wasn’t as much in the wilderness and a big part of the story is located in cities with a lot of different and new characters. It was cool to see Vasya react to those bigger cities and her new surroundings during her travelling. She grew up in a little village in the north of Rural Russia and she didn’t have much contact with outsiders, so she had a lot of problems adjusting to the new environment. Two of the biggest adjustments she has to make are getting used to the political games that are often played by the leaders in Moscow and the role women had in the medieval Russian society.

If you liked The Bear and the Nightingale, definitely read this book too!

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