The Girl in the Tower is a bewitching sequel!
It’s become quite clear that I will read anything Katherine Arden writes. Her debut The Bear and the Nightingale was one of my favourite reads of last year. I dare say that Bear is a mere drop in the ocean when it comes to Arden’s writing and clever plot twists in The Girl in the Tower.
Following on from the ending of Bear, Vasya is branded a witch and because she's not content with just being some man’s wife or living in a convent as a nun for the rest of her life, she leaves her village with Solovey. Vasya braves the cold wilderness and doesn't look back, she wants to see the world and experience life but the only way to do this is to disguise herself as a Russian boy.
There was a real sense of adventure in Girl, Vasya finds herself embroiled in a brewing political war between the Moscow royal family and the Khan of Mogul. Vasya cannot stand by while villages are burning and children are being kidnapped and instead risks her life, battling bandits with nothing but her cunning mind and tenacious nature.
Vasya is reunited with her brother Sasha, a priest and right hand man of Prince Dmitry and Olga a Russian princess who is sequestered in a tower with her children and terem. I loved the complex relationship Vasya had which each sibling and how they each battled with the internal struggle of religion and what was expected of women and their role within society compared to their wild sister. As always Arden’s abilitiy to carefully craft a book filled with religion, history, politics and fairytales is truly genius.
I didn’t think it was possible to enjoy Girl more than Bear but I was wrong. Between the stunning prose, the lush world building and a slow burn budding romance, I was completely hooked and found myself reading long into the night. I was absolutely delighted to see Arden include yet more Russian myths and legends, such as the fire bird, Polunochnitsa and I particularly loved reading about Kaschei the deathless.... and of course my beloved Morokzo. The elusive Frost-Demon is just as thrilling and enticing as always, there weren't enough pages with him in to satisfy my shameless obsession with him!
The Girl in the Tower is a bewitching sequel, with magical writing and stunning prose that transports you to medieval Russia, you would swear you could feel the winter frost nipping at your fingers while reading. Arden takes readers on a thrilling adventure, elegantly weaved with gorgeous Russian history and folklore that keeps you in its thrall until the very end. The Girl in the Tower was easily one of my favourite books of the year and although I really don’t want this series to end I can’t wait for book three!