It’s my stop on the blog tour for the third and final instalment of Katherine Arden’s fantastic Winternight trilogy which began with The Bear and the Nightingale and continued in The Girl in the Tower. I loved both of the previous novels, and couldn’t wait to see how Vasya’s story would end.
One girl can make a difference…
Moscow is in flames, leaving its people searching for answers – and someone to blame. Vasilisa, a girl with extraordinary gifts, must flee for her life, pursued by those who blame their misfortune on her magic.
Then a vengeful demon returns, stronger than ever. Determined to engulf the world in chaos, he finds allies among men and spirits. Mankind and magical creatures alike find their fates resting on Vasya’s shoulders.
But she may not be able to save them all.
The Winter of the Witch begins in the immediate aftermath of the events of The Girl in the Tower. Now, if you’re going to read this, you really do need to start at the beginning of the series to fully appreciate the background to the story. Once again, Vasya finds herself in difficult circumstances as the people of Moscow look for someone to blame for their losses, and Vasya, an unusual girl with strange powers, finds herself bearing the brunt of the mob’s so-called justice. With a little help, she escapes, and is forced to run, leaving everyone behind while she recovers and regains her strength. Her journey is, as ever, long and arduous, and she finds herself drawn into a war over which she has little control.
Vasya is a character that I adore – I could read about her antics all day long. A spirited woman, she refuses to accept that she no options beyond marriage and children, and has ever been intent on forging her own path. In this third instalment, I liked that more people began to accept that they could not control her. While they might mean well, it was fantastic to see Vasya accepted for who she is, rather than having to play a role for the sake of propriety. I also liked seeing a little more of Olga, Vasya’s sister, in this novel, and I felt that she was portrayed in a better light than in previous instalments. Each of the characters has developed over the course of the trilogy, and it’s this, as much as the strange times in which they live, that helps them accept Vasya as she is.
Throughout the series, there has been a battle between the old ways and the new. With Christianity making inroads into Russia, there is little room for the Russian’s to honour the spirits of hearth and home as they had done historically, and any such pagan worship is deemed heretical by the church. Despite this, Vasya and some few others who can see and hear the Domovoi continue to honour them, and I loved these little beings! Vasya gains a new sidekick – the first to join her side! – in this novel, and he is such a wonderful little being. Of course, these spirits can hinder as well as help, and it’s a fool that trusts them blindly. That said, Vasya has few options available to her, and she seeks help from these beings throughout the novel to aid her journey, and I love the folkloric influences that can be seen throughout the novel.
The Winter of the Witch is a fantastic conclusion to what has been an amazing trilogy. It’s a series that will stay with me, and one that I already want to reread. I can’t recommend it enough to fans of the genre.
The Winter of the Witch was published on 10 January by Del Rey. Many thanks to Tess Henderson and the publisher for my review copy, and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.
As well as my review, I also have a giveaway for you – a copy of the whole series: two paperbacks, and the latest novel in hardback. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post, or retweet my pinned tweet (I’m on Twitter @tiny_ickle_jo) by midnight – UK time –on 13 January. I’ll then pick a winner at random. UK entrants only, please, and you must be wiling to share your address with me so that I can send you the prize.
Please do check out the other stops on the blog tour: