Review: The Girl in the Tower. Winternight Trilogy 2 by Katherine Arden

Vasilisa has grown up at the edge of a Russian wilderness, where snowdrifts reach the the girleaves 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.

Now Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, the only options left for her are 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 Vasilisa 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.

  1. The Bear and the Nightingale
  2. The Girl in the Tower
  3. The Winter of the Witch

It is a very rare thing for me to read 2 or more books in the same series back to back. Even if I love a book, I mostly need something else in between before I get back to it. But in this case, I just had to read on. If you read my review of The Bear and the Nightingale, you saw that I was over the moon and really in love with the book! I hoped that ‘The Girl in the Tower’ would be exactly the same. So did it end up being just as awesome?

Not quite.

Don’t get me wrong, it was still an enjoyable read, but in my opinion, it lost a little bit of its magic and fairytale-like feel. It’s supposed to be different and I really appreciate, that it doesn’t try to be a copy of the first book. The setting changes, Vasya is older now. She leaves her family behind and sets out into the world to travel and see. She doesn’t know exactly where she is going and what she wants to do, but she knows that she can’t stay. She is accompanied by her loyal horse Solovey and during the story she meets up with old & new friends. There’s her older sister Olga, whom we last met in the start of book 1, when she was married off and moved to Moscow. We also catch up with Vasya’s brother Sasha, who decided to become a warrior monk and is very close with the Russian prince.

Vasya gets caught up in intrigues and power struggles, although she just wants to keep on moving. She is not innocent though, as she decides to pose as a boy, which leads to all kinds of trouble, especially after she saved 3 girls from bandits & catches the eye of the crown prince & a mysterious stranger.

With her scheme, Vasya endangers the lives of her sister as well as her brother, as they go along with it, in order to protect her.

I love how Vasya is portrayed in this second novel. Although she is trying to do good and make the world right, she does cause more pain & trouble than she wants to. She does so many stupid things, I just wanted to slap her across the face a couple of times. She definitely is not as likeable as in the first book and more of a controversial character. I still love reading about her, as she is a very complex character.

I was happy to see that Morozko is still playing a role and that his relationship with Vasya is constantly developing. It’s still not the center of the story, but there’s so much tension between those 2 and so much drama.. I loved it! It’s a really nice slow-burn romance, that is unfolding so beautifully!

Talking about beautiful – so is the writing! It is very atmospheric again and I want to slap myself for not writing down any quotes..

I was a big fan of the ending and the showdown in the tower. I think it was well done & believable and emotional. It makes me very, very excited about book 3.

I will give this book

4/5 Stars

I enjoyed it. I thought it showed great character development, had a new fresh setting, but was lacking the magic of book 1. I didn’t feel as cozy reading it. If I make sense 😀 I would have liked to read more about the old gods for example. The relationship between Morozko and Vasya was still great, I am still in love with Solovey and liked the ending. Bring on book 3!



  1. Ah shame you felt like this lost a bit of the fairy tale feel. I did feel like the story grew in this book and personally liked that, but I can see how that also meant it lost some of the feel from the first book, so I get where you’re coming from. I do agree that Vasya was became increasingly complex. And yes I loved the ending too 😀 I’m psyched for book 3 too. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting how the style changed from book 1 to 2. I still want to read the first book, but at least if I love it I’ll be able to go into the sequel prepared for a change in tone. Nice review!

    Liked by 1 person

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