I finished The Winter of the Witch last month but didn’t have time to write a review until now. Obviously, my thoughts on this book aren’t fresh now so I’m kind of copy-pasting my email conversation with my buddy reader Toni @ readingtonic. One thing we both agree on is The Winter of the Witch was the epic conclusion of this trilogy.
Table of Contents
The Winter of the Witch (The Winternight Trilogy #3) by Katherine Arden
Publication Date : January 10, 2019
Publisher : Del Rey (Ebury Publishing)
Read Date : Novermber 19, 2023
Genre : YA Fantasy / Russian Folklore/Mythology
Pages : 372
Previous books in series –
One girl can make a difference…
Moscow has burned nearly to the ground, leaving its people searching for answers – and someone to hold accountable. Vasya finds herself on her own, amid a rabid mob that calls for her death, blaming her witchery for their misfortune.
Then a vengeful demon returns, renewed and stronger than ever, determined to spread chaos in his wake and never be chained again. Enlisting the hateful priest Konstantin as his servant, turmoil plagues the Muscovites and the magical creatures alike, and all find their fates resting on the shoulders of Vasya.
With an uncertain destiny ahead of her, Vasya learns surprising truths of her past as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all…
Review of The Winter of the Witch
Just like The Girl in the Tower, The Winter of the Witch starts exactly from where The Girl in the Tower ends and takes faster turns than I expected. Even with that first paragraph of synopsis, I wasn’t prepared for what happened in the first part of the book. It was cruel, heartbreaking, and outrageous to read how that sniveling bastard, Konstantin, turned the people of Moscow against Vasya. I knew him being alive wouldn’t end well and seeing that blind fool regaining the glory and power was like salt on the burn.
I literally cried For Vasya and Solovey. I was so terrified for her and what was to come next. All of Vasya’s pain, suffering, and anger are well placed and I don’t blame her for turning bitter towards people, letting out that anger, and turning to magic.
I loved how Vasya met her great-grandmother in second part. There was no surprise there as I got the hint about her in the second book but I was surprised to find she had not just one but two daughters and what really happened to make both daughters never return to their mother. I’m not sure if that was the craziness of her magic that made her more cold toward her own daughters or betrayal that cannot forgive even after the death but I wish there was more time with her.
Everything that happened in the third part absolutely perfect and it’s also my favorite part in the book mostly because of the moments between Vasya and Morozko. I loved those intimate scenes. they were subtle and gentle without any description and yet it felt perfect, leaving no doubt that Morozko is perfect for Vasya and no mortal man of this world could love her and accept her as she is like Morozko does. I loved Morozko even more for traveling in the last part to find out who her father was and also for getting his blessing. It’s so unlike him and lovely.
Everything after she rescued Morozko in fourth part was epic. Vasya, Morozko, and Dimitrii fighting together was fabulous to read. I enjoyed Dimitrii’s conversations with both cousins, they were the only bright thing in the otherwise whole dark and heavy plot. As for the end of that battle with the Bear, I didn’t like how Konstantine was made a martyr. He deserved the worst but like Vasya I was surprised to see feelings in the Bear and see him mourning. I thought he would be indifferent as Konstantin was just a tool for him.
Last part of the book is filled with chaos and lots of emotions and many other surprises. The chaos Vasya created with the Bear and other chyerti was amazing. I liked how the author showed Vasya’s more reckless and dangerous and at the same time enjoying it that matches with the Bear’s nature and honestly, I don’t blame her after what she has to go through all this time. Seeing both the Bear and Morozko together beside Vasya made much more sense to what Lady Midnight said and intended. It truly made Vasya the bridge she was meant to be.
I loved Vasya’s growth throughout the book and also loved how staying with Vasya changed Shasha and Olga. I was even glad to see Dimitri on her side and grateful for Father Sergi getting Vasya’s point. There were so many amazing moments that showed the strength and weakness of all characters and it was amazing to all of them uniting putting aside their differences for the love of Moscow, for the land they loved.
There was a perfect blend of politics, history, folklore, religion, and culture of 1380s Russia. The world was amazing, especially the Midnight Road. The description of the forest, the darkness that creeps right out of the book, its rules, and how its roads connect to the real world… it was all super imaginative.
I’m not aware of Russia’s history and folklore so I wasn’t prepared for what happened to Shasha. I agree with Toni about how precise all the historical events were. That last battle was horrifying, tragic, and heartbreaking, and yet the end was sweet and uplifting.
Overall, The Winter of the Witch is epic, enchanting, and emotive YA fantasy, perfectly blending Russian history, folklore, religion, and culture.
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Just in case you missed,,,,
- Delightful Collection of 10 Whimsical Folktales from Manipur – Feathers, Fools and Farts by L. Somi Roy
- Creative collection of retellings for kids – Midaash And Maitreyi’s Magical Mayhem by Shobhita Narayan
- The Lily of Ludgate Hill by Mimi Matthews – delightful second chance Victorian romance
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