Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) (1)
Review,  Fantasy,  YA

The Girl In The Tower By Katherine Arden – Enchanting Russian Fantasy

The Girl in The Tower is an enchanting, fascinating, and beautifully written feminist YA fantasy with Russian folklore mixed with fourteenth-century Russian culture, history, and geography.

I buddy read this with Toni @ readingtonic We both loved The Girl In The Tower, even more than first book.

The Girl in The Tower

The Girl in The Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden

Publication Date : December 5, 2017

Publisher : Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing

Read Date : Octeber 30, 2023

Genre : Fantasy / YA

Pages : 364

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Disclaimer – I bought this book. (ages ago!)
This post contains affiliate links.

Previous book in series –

The Bear and the Nightingale


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.

Review of The Girl in The Tower

The Girl in The Tower is a mesmerizing sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale that starts where the first book ended but unlike other series, continues with the story of Vasya and her leaving the house this starts by taking us to the other two siblings of Vasya who left home before her, Olga and Shasha, that gives us look on how both have grown up and what their life has been in the Moscow.

Olga has been a dutiful wife and mother who has grown to be wise and shrewd and has learned to survive the politics of the palace and its herem. Shasha is a warrior monk, instead of joining his master in the work of God he remains beside the prince of Moscow, Dimitri Ivanovich, as an advisor and most closest person. They both are unaware of events that happened back at home, of Vasya with her sight and the more we know them the more it feels they wouldn’t accept Vasya as she is and even less her sight and power.

While Shasha is out with the prince to hunt the raiders of many villages in the country, he unexpectedly meets Vasya, dressed as a boy pretending to be a boy, who came with three girls she saved from the raiders.

It was interesting to see how they would react to the news from home, if they could accept Vasya with her free-spirited soul, how Vasya came across those raiders and managed to save the girls, and how she would survive in Moscow, can she keep her identity of being girl hidden under the deceptive appearance of the young lord? And then there is evil behind Vasya that has followed her to Moscow.

Writing is beautiful, enchanting, and atmospheric. I could feel the cold, hard, cruel vibe of the world outside her village, life on the road, and of Moscow along with Vasya. The first book focuses on Vasya and her family while in The Girl In The Tower there is more focus on politics, impending war, and how she and her family get tangled in it.

Once again there are themes and layers of misogyny, physical abuse, assault, deception, betrayal, loneliness, loss and grief, and discovering oneself (I don’t think this part is solved yet).

Vasya is rebellious, independent, and feminist in a world that doesn’t even know its meaning. She is not perfect and makes mistakes on her way to discovering herself with love for her own who hardly understand her. I could relate to her up to some extent.

I loved her growth throughout the book. She is learning to survive outside her home in a world she has never seen before. She was naive and innocent when she started her journey as a traveller, she is still acting recklessly but she learns from her mistakes and she knows what she has to do to survive as a lone unmarried woman in the world of wolves.

My heart ached for her when she realized her siblings weren’t the same as she grew up with; they have changed, their lives have changed, and when she realizes they wouldn’t understand her, never let her be free, might lock her in the tower, and running away again might be the only option. It was heartbreaking to see her sad and lonely even among the people she loved the most. I so wished Alyosha was there with her.

But both Shasha and Olga weren’t totally rejecting her. I feared they would, but they only were rejecting her ideas, her beliefs, her way of living, but not the sister they loved. They could see the same feral, wild child they had seen a decade ago, they could see she is not mad as others were saying just reckless and crazy herself as she always has been. I also loved how Shasha, though reluctantly, appreciated her bravery, her courage, and her skills with horses. Olga wasn’t as appreciative and yet she tried to hide her identity as much as she could.

I loved Vasya’s connection with Morozko. It’s a little disappointing to see him so less in The Girl In The Tower. He is there, he is Vasya’s shadow but she kept pushing him away. Morozko is learning to love and just when they both see that clearly in the climax, Vasya discovers the truth about talisman and I didn’t like Vasya’s overreaction and what that did to him. I love that guy and I hope this isn’t the last time I’m seeing him.

I hate Konstantin. That snivelly, selfish, bastard again found his way into the Petrovich family. Even though he didn’t appear as often as first book, in fact very little, and yet he did more harm to make up for his absence. Another unexpected villain was even more dangerous. I didn’t see him coming. Even though there was a hint and those who might know the meaning of that word could have identified the villain early for me it was super surprising and even more surprising was what he did to Vasya.

This time we get a little glimpse of what happened to Vasya’s grandmother and why she chose the life in palace but yet we still don’t clear picture of her ‘before’ life- why she came to the palace, why she ran away, and also who is her mother. I hope we get that missing dot in the next book.

The first three parts are slow and steady paced but the last two parts are my most favorite as it pick up the speed, all action takes place in these, and there are more revelations, and also we once again see both the magical and real world mixed so perfectly.

The climax is tense, tragic, and heartbreaking. While I didn’t like Olga closing her doors on Vasya’s face, I also feel she was right in her place; what Vasya did wasn’t her choice to make. All the actions after that kept me on the edge. I couldn’t see the end of the battle and when it came it wasn’t what I expected. Now I can’t wait to see what happens in the final book. Before I started the book I though Vasya would be The Girl In The Tower as title suggests but now i can’t figure if it was for Olga or her daughter.

Overall, The Girl in The Tower is an enchanting, fascinating, and beautifully written feminist YA fantasy with Russian folklore mixed with fourteenth-century Russian culture, history, and geography.

You might enjoy The Girl In The Tower if you like,

Winter setting
Russin folklore mixed with medieval Russia
Witch books
Theme of belongingness, loneliness, bravery and misogyny
Feminist fairytale

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Thank you for reading! Let’s chat..,

What do you think about The Girl In The Tower and my review?
What is your favorite book with Russian folklore or your favorite witch book?

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”


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