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.
Only Sasha, a priest with a warrior's training, recognises this 'boy' as his younger sister, thought to be dead or a witch by her village. But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, Sasha realises he must keep her secret as she may be the only way to save the city from threats both human and fantastical...(Goodreads)
If you've read (and loved) The Bear and the Nightingale, the first question you probably have about The Girl in the Tower is 'Does it live up to the brilliance of the first book?'
It does. And more.
The Girl in the Tower takes place shortly after the first books events. Vasya is now a young woman, still eager to travel and see all she can, but wiser in the ways of the world. So when she is forced to decide whether to marry or go into a convent, she takes her fate into her own hands. Vasya is now one of my favourite characters. Her intelligence and bravery constantly had me cheering her on. She says 'I can' in a world that tells her she can't.
Arden manages to blend history and fantasy so well. She makes me fully believe that I might've encountered spirits and demons in Russia as well as politics and war. Her writing transports you straight to the harsh lands of Russia. You're right beside Vasya, snow crunching beneath your feet in the stillness of the woods.
You won'tr regret picking up this instalment, although it might make you desperate for the third book The Winter of the Witch, the upcoming conclusion to the trilogy.
And now for an exclusive interview with the author herself- Katherine Arden!
· Where did the idea for the Winternight trilogy come from? Was there a moment when you realised you wanted to write this story?
It kind of grew gradually. When I started, all I knew is that I wanted to write a book set in Russia and based on a fairy tale. I got started mostly through boredom, then fell in love with the writing process.
· How has the experience of writing your second book been different to writing the first?
Much more stressful! With your first book, there are no expectations. With the second, you think that you ought to know what you’re doing, and it’s much harder to relax into the process. At least that is how it was for me. Writing the second book was largely a process of learning to accept that as a writer you will not always write well and you must allow your book to grow without burdening it with expectations.
· Your books read like a Russian fairytales, which for someone like me who is very accustomed to western European fairytales is very refreshing. Have you always preferred more eastern European tales?
Not particularly, although I do love Russian fairy tales. I just love stories in general. As a kid I loved Grimm, Perrault, the Thousand and One Nights, Afanasyev, the Just So Stories—really any kind of tale.
· Which spirit from Russian folklore would you most like be real? (Although who’s to say they’re not?)
Sivka-Burka—I want a magic horse
· Finally, what can your readers expect from The Girl in the Tower?
Read the book! It is tighter in pacing and rhythm than The Bear and the Nightingale, since it covers weeks instead of years. It is also a bit darker and more dramatic, and the themes are more mature, since the main character is a young woman instead of a child.
Check out the other stops on The Girl in the Tower's blog tour for more reviews, giveaways and interviews!