Title: The Winter of the Witch
Author: Katherine Arden
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Page Count: 384
My rating: 3 1/2 stars
About the book:
Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.
“A tale both intimate and epic, featuring a heroine whose harrowing and wondrous journey culminates in an emotionally resonant finale.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Reviewers called Katherine Arden’s novels The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower “lyrical,” “emotionally stirring,” and “utterly bewitching.” The Winternight Trilogy introduced an unforgettable heroine, Vasilisa Petrovna, a girl determined to forge her own path in a world that would rather lock her away. Her gifts and her courage have drawn the attention of Morozko, the winter-king, but it is too soon to know if this connection will prove a blessing or a curse.
Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden is the third and final book of the Winternight Trilogy. The Winternight Trilogy is a historical fantasy read that is heavily influenced by Russian folklore and fairy tales. Each book of the series picks up where the previous had left off so this is one that definitely needs to be read from the beginning in order to fully understand the world and it’s characters.
In the first book of the series, The Bear and the Nightingale the story introduced readers to young Vasilisa who lived at the edge of the Russian wilderness where winter lasted most of the year with her father and siblings. It was there that Vasilisa and the children gathered around the fire at night and listened to the tale of Frost, a much feared blue eyed winter demon that will claim wary souls. The children learned that as much as Frost is feared they must honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil.
Vasilisa was different from other children, she was able to see the spirits that surround the land around the family. With a bit of a wild side Vasilisa spent her time roaming the forest and interacting with the spirits. After Vasilisa’s mother passed away her father traveled to Moscow to find a new wife. The new stepmother shared Vasilisa’s vision and forbid the interaction with what she thought were demons in her new home and with promise of either being married off or sent to a convent Vasilisa ran off to encounter Frost where the adventure began that has continued throughout the series.
The Winternight Trilogy has been a rather up and down experience for me as a reader from the beginning. I absolutely love the way the author painted the scene of medieval Russia in the bitter cold and her use of folklore into the story setting up this fantasy trilogy. But, for me the story is one that is rather slow going throughout and would test my patience getting through the books. The second of the series was my favorite as it did seem to pick up a bit from the pace of the first but now with this last I felt that it was back to really dragging through a lot of areas of the story. Many readers though absolutely love this trilogy and I, myself, would still recommend giving it a chance even if it was a bit slow for my overall taste leaving me to rate this last installment at 3.5 stars.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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About the author:
Katherine Arden is the author of the national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower. Born in Austin, Texas, she has studied Russian in Moscow, taught at a school in the French Alps, and worked on a farm in Hawaii. She currently lives in Vermont.