The Girl in the Tower

The Girl in the Tower

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself t...

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Title:The Girl in the Tower
Author:Katherine Arden
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Girl in the Tower Reviews

  • Amalia Gavea

    Moving on to the 2nd book of the trilogy immediately after finishing the 1st volume was a no-brainer and from the very first pages, I knew that this would prove to be an exciting journey. Well, ‘’exciting’’ is an understatement actually. In my opinion, this was a rollercoaster of images, of characters and emotions. It was better than that the 1st part of the Winternight series and its atmosphere

    Moving on to the 2nd book of the trilogy immediately after finishing the 1st volume was a no-brainer and from the very first pages, I knew that this would prove to be an exciting journey. Well, ‘’exciting’’ is an understatement actually. In my opinion, this was a rollercoaster of images, of characters and emotions. It was better than that the 1st part of the Winternight series and its atmosphere was more ‘’Russian’’, more faithful to the original legend, more authentic.

    In the rare cases in which I have dedicated my reading time to a trilogy, I’ve found that the 2nd book is usually my favourite. It happened with ‘’The Lord of the Rings’’ and with the Grisha Trilogy.So, ‘’The Girl in the Tower’’ was no exception. We delve right into action from the opening pages and continue in a whirlwind, because Arden achieves a much-needed balance between the action parts, the interactions of the characters and the descriptions of the life in the rural communities and the glorious city of Moscow. The lavishness of the capital juxtaposed with the threats that are lurking in the frozen woods is beautifully executed. In fact, I have nothing but praise for Arden’s writing in this installment.

    What I really appreciated is the fact that Arden doesn’t dwell much in the events of the 1st part and prefers to refer to them occasionally and in context with the current events and their implications. After all, it wouldn’t be wise to start a trilogy from the 2nd part. She is a really capable writer and her writing here is mature, engaging and haunting, fully doing justice to the beautiful wintry fairy tales from the land of the Rus.There is not a single trace of YA tropes and norms in this novel, and despite the extensive presence of characters of a world beyond our own, this reads more like a Historical Fiction book, rather than a fantasy. The elements of legends are here, but they are finely woven into the narration and they are part of the action, not mere gimmicks. There is a beautiful reference to the Snow-Maiden, the fairytales that provided the inspiration for Eowyn Ivey’s masterpiece ‘’The Snow Child’’ . You’ll read about the Firebird, the horse with the golden mane, the goddesses of Morning, Midday and Midnight, the Gamayun and many familiar Russian mythical figures. I also have to say that I was impressed with the way Arden treated the Tatars’ raids subplot. Without being too graphic, she creates a shadow that looms over our heroine and over the residents of the country. The shadow of a threat that is far more real than any demons or evil spirits.

    The characters are extremely well-written. Vasya is more mature, but no less intelligent, feisty, brave and kind than we knew her. Still, the complications that come from experiencing certain disturbing feelings may weigh down on her. Morozko’s presence is electrifying, a larger-than- life figure and a battlefield in which the man and the immortal try to prevail against each other. The moments between him and Vasya are the highlights of the novel. We meet a few new characters and come to know certain previously introduced ones even better, but I’d be thoughtless if I didn’t mention Sergei, a monk who is Sasha’s mentor and a wonderful character that really stood out. Olya, on the other hand, was too irritating for my troubled patience…

    So, those of you who have read the 1st book, don’t tally:) Read the 2nd volume as soon as you can, because you don't want to miss the experience. I loved this book, you know. I really, really loved it. As a Historical Fiction, as a beautiful fairytale, as an avid reader and lover of Russian Folk tradition and Literature. This is a book that celebrates womanhood, love, the fight to surpass the obstacles and remain true to your principles…

    Many thanks to Penguin Random House and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange of an honest review.

    My reviews can also be found on

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    Final review, first posted on

    :

    (2017), a medieval Russian fantasy, continues the story of Vasilisa (Vasya), a young woman whose story began in Katherine Arden’s debut novel

    , one of my favorite fantasies from early 2017. That makes it a hard act to follow, but there’s no sophomore slump here.

    is an even stronger novel, more sure-footed and compelling in its telling, and with mo

    Final review, first posted on

    :

    (2017), a medieval Russian fantasy, continues the story of Vasilisa (Vasya), a young woman whose story began in Katherine Arden’s debut novel

    , one of my favorite fantasies from early 2017. That makes it a hard act to follow, but there’s no sophomore slump here.

    is an even stronger novel, more sure-footed and compelling in its telling, and with more complex and nuanced characterization.

    At the beginning of

    , which picks up right where The Bear and the Nightingale ends, Vasya was leaving her childhood village of Lesnaya Zemlya in northern Rus’ to go to Moscow, where her sister Olga lives. Vasya’s life in Lesnaya Zemlya was threatened by villagers who view her as a witch. In a sense it’s true: Vasya has the rare ability to see and talk to the nature spirits and characters of Russian folklore, including the frost-demon Morozko, the Russian death-god. Morozko helps Vasya on her way as she travels toward Moscow alone, against all the norms for women and against Morozko’s advice, with only her stallion Solovey (the “Nightingale”) for company and protection.

    The journey to Moscow is even more dangerous than usual. A mysterious group of bandits is making its way across the countryside, burning entire villages, slaughtering most of the villagers and kidnapping young girls for slavery. Vasya’s cousin Dmitrii Ivanovic, the current Grand Prince of Moscow, is out hunting for the bandits with the help of Vasya’s brother Sasha, a warrior-like priest. They’re unexpectedly joined by a red-haired lord called Kasyan Lutovich, who unexpectedly appears with his men to help with the search, explaining that his lands (called Bashnya Kostei, the “Tower of Bones”) have also been raided by these bandits.

    Vasya’s refusal to comply with the customs and rules of 14th century Russia regarding the proper role and behavior of women ― in particular, highborn women ― gets Vasya into a lot of trouble, both on the way to Moscow and once she arrives. While Vasya is traveling alone through Russia, she dresses and acts as a young man for safety, hiding her long hair under a cap or hood. Once she runs into her cousin Dmitrii, she’s locked into that dangerous pretense. Dmitrii is charmed with the courageous young man that he thinks Vasya is, but Vasya ― not to mention Sasha, Olga and Olga’s family ― risk losing everything for carrying on with this deception. Meanwhile, there are also bandits to fight and Mongol conquerors to try to avoid paying heavy tribute to, and Vasya finds herself in the midst of that conflict.

    Vasya is a spirited, fiercely independent young woman with no desire whatsoever to spend her life cooped up in a fine house with towers, as her sister Olga and young niece Marya do, or become a cloistered nun, which are the only options typically available to a highborn woman. It hurt my heart to see Vasya, in disguise as a boy, enjoying the freedoms men took for granted, knowing the terrible consequences discovery of her deception are likely to bring down upon her head. Olga, despite the restrictions on her life, is an intelligent woman who’s found a role in Moscow society that she’s reluctant to risk, not to mention her family’s status. Sasha, their brother, is another character who turns out to be more complex than he initially appears. The deeply conflicted priest Konstantin also reappears in

    , but there’s far less of the “evils of Christianity” subtext that made

    sometimes uncomfortable reading.

    Katherine Arden weaves a magical tapestry of medieval Russia, but she doesn’t shy away from the harsh facts of life in those times. There’s a stark beauty to the land, its people and its folklore spirits, but the constraints on women are comparable to those on women in some of the stringent, restrictive cultures that still exist in our world today. Without dwelling overmuch on the point, Arden also makes you aware of the basic sanitary conditions and other aspects of day-to-day life in that age. Privileged princesses have rotten teeth; childbirth carries with it deadly dangers to mother and child.

    is entrancing: gorgeous and bleak and wonderful and terrifying, all at the same time. Arden immerses the reader in this vividly imagined world filled with both beauty and brutality. The WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY will conclude in

    , due for publication in August 2018. I’ll be reading it as soon as I can possibly lay my hands on it!

    The ARC of this book (the sequel to

    ) just arrived on my doorstep today!! *does happy dance*

    Nov. 2017 buddy read with karen and Steven.

  • Melanie

    1.)

    ★★★★★

    Hi, my name is Melanie and I’m in love with a frost demon. You guys, please stop sleeping on this series. This is the best historical fantasy I’ve ever read in my entire life. And all of the Russian folklore is actual perfection. This is the type of book that reminds me that literature c

    1.)

    ★★★★★

    Hi, my name is Melanie and I’m in love with a frost demon. You guys, please stop sleeping on this series. This is the best historical fantasy I’ve ever read in my entire life. And all of the Russian folklore is actual perfection. This is the type of book that reminds me that literature can be tangible pieces of magic, and this book is truly an enchanted masterpiece.

    picks up right where

    left off. Vasya is leaving the only home she has ever known, and has chosen to see the world that is beyond the forest that surrounds her family’s home.

    And since it is absolutely unheard of for a girl to go exploring the world on her own, and since the ways of men can be cruel to a girl traveling alone, Vasya disguises herself as a boy and ventures out to see what the world has to offer. Well, unfortunately, Vasya soon finds that the world has to offer many cruelties, and some of the surrounding forest towns have been burned down and had their young daughters stolen away.

    Vasya can’t help but want to save these people that remind her so much of her own village back home. And soon her path crosses with her older brother, Sasha, who has devoted his life to God, and her older sister Olga, who has devoted her life to motherhood after wedding a prince. Vasya hasn’t seen either of these siblings for ten years, so it’s quite a reunion to say the least. And Vasya soon finds out that her niece is much more like her than the world would want.

    We are also very quickly thrown into the world of Moscow, where political intrigue and betrayal is vast. Vasya is forced to masquerade as a boy in a city that is unlike anything she’s ever experienced while living in the safety of her forest. And even winter can’t protect her, because spring is arriving sooner and sooner every day.

    This book is so atmospheric! You will breathe in the cold, you will taste the food, you will break from the heartache, but you will feel the magic inside of this story. I truly believe this book is on parallel with none for atmosphere. The descriptions are lush, and gorgeous, and make me believe Katherine Arden’s words truly are written with sorcery.

    And the characters are some of my absolute favorites, bar none. How am I so in love with a brooding frost demon, a sassy stallion, a brand-new ghost, and every single small-folk who reside in all the different ovens and bathhouses in Russia? On top of Vasya being one of the best female protagonists every to be created. I’m so enthralled, so captivated, and so invested in everyone’s story. Somehow, Katherine Arden has woven the entire cast into my heart and soul and I want to protect them all at all costs.

    And this book is so wonderfully feminist! Give me all the books about girls choosing themselves and their wants for their own future. Like, this entire series is about a girl who doesn’t want to fit into women’s gender-norm for this time period. She is proud to be different, she doesn’t care what other’s say, and she always listens to her heart. She’s knows that being brave is more important than being beautiful. She knows that being smart is more important that being subservient. And she knows that being a woman doesn’t make her lesser than being a man. And all of these themes are constant throughout the novel.

    Vasya wants to explore, and go on adventures, and see the world, rather than getting married, having children, and managing a household. But Vasya never shames that life choice/path, she just knows that it isn’t for her. And even when she feels like she has the whole world against her, Vasya never backs down or changes who she is. I could honestly write a thesis, a book of my own, and a freakin’ sonnet to how much Vasya Petrovna means to me.

    I loved this book with the sum of my being. This book is so very powerful, and I can’t even find the words to express how much this series means to me.

    is easily my most anticipated release of 2018 now. This series is such a magical treat, and I hope you all do yourselves a favor and pick it up. Just make sure you are prepared for the ultimate winter wonderland, that doesn’t hold back from heartbreak.

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  • Elyse

    Book Two in a Trilogy.....

    "The Girl in the Tower", is the sequel to "The Bear and the Nightingale".

    which is DAZZLING- GLORIOUS - and SENSATIONAL!!!

    Once again, author Katherine Arden has done something really extraordinary--

    she gives us an historical fiction medieval Russian Fairy Tale.....Incredibly creative and breathtaking.

    The history itself is educational and fascinating....also barbarous-and complex. It's dangerous times: villages are burning - and people have been killed.

    From start to

    Book Two in a Trilogy.....

    "The Girl in the Tower", is the sequel to "The Bear and the Nightingale".

    which is DAZZLING- GLORIOUS - and SENSATIONAL!!!

    Once again, author Katherine Arden has done something really extraordinary--

    she gives us an historical fiction medieval Russian Fairy Tale.....Incredibly creative and breathtaking.

    The history itself is educational and fascinating....also barbarous-and complex. It's dangerous times: villages are burning - and people have been killed.

    From start to finish -I was totally melting into this story. Before we enter the wilderness-with Vasilisa Petrovna...(Vasya/Vasilii)....we meet her older sister, Olga Vladimirova -who has two young children and a third one on the way. Olga holds the context of 'the worries' for all her family members -in the way I imagine many first born sisters do.

    We also meet brother Aleksandr -Sasha... and The Grand Prince of Moscow - Dmitrii- a Priest from Olga's and Vasys's home town of Lesbaya Zemlya. It's at the beginning when we learn from Sasha about the bandits and how strong and organized they seem to be raiding villages. The Priest brings sad news about their father as well.

    Sasha tries to warn his Royal cousin - Dmitrii...that there must not be a war come spring with the Khan's. It's brutal out there. They need more time to gather more men and he wants Dmitrii to go back with him into the woods.

    Vasya is already out in those woods - with her Bay Stallion named Solovery. Vasya has a fire for freedom in her belly to explore - to not be confined to marriage or live as a nun in a convent. Taking on the disguise as a boy ( completely sexless)-at times Vasya ---named changed to Vasilii--finds it challenging playing the role of country boy. She knows she shouldn't blush - for example.

    Vasya is often intrigued by all the new things she sees ( the city was almost too over-stimulating)--yet she is also frightened as can be at times --and COLD. There were times she was shivering convulsively in the night air - with snow falling thicker than ever.

    I don't want to spoil the story itself --but Vasya with her mare - traveling - and putting herself in dangers way - maturing day by day - and all the supporting characters are absolutely dazzling. There is adventure - suspense - tension - warmth - laughter- and love!!! There was one spot - where I laughed and cried at the 'same' time. My emotions exploded for a few minutes.

    I'm blessed with the physical books. They are both GORGEOUS!! MANY Thanks to Random House Publishing...... plus, thank you Netgalley!

    The last person I must say a HUGE THANK YOU TOO is Katherine Arden!!!!

    The lovely prose had me STOP- RE-READ -and......BASK-with PLEASURE!!!

    ......from tinkling of bells, a line of sleighs, lumpish strangers, bristling beards, mittened hands, honeycakes to soothe an irritable Bay Stallion....etc. etc. etc. I was kept in 'aw'!!

    I can't wait for book Three! -- Sons and Daughters will love these books too!!

  • Nastassja
  • Mischenko

    To see this review and others please visit

    Brave Vasya, older and wild as ever, is faced with a choice to either marry or live in a convent as a nun. Neither choice seems applicable to her and she would rather die riding in the frozen wintry forest than be stuck living a life that doesn’t fit her. She’s been deemed a witch and questions still loom regarding her father’s death. Vasya needs to discover who she is and as she embarks on a journey alone with her horse Solov

    To see this review and others please visit

    Brave Vasya, older and wild as ever, is faced with a choice to either marry or live in a convent as a nun. Neither choice seems applicable to her and she would rather die riding in the frozen wintry forest than be stuck living a life that doesn’t fit her. She’s been deemed a witch and questions still loom regarding her father’s death. Vasya needs to discover who she is and as she embarks on a journey alone with her horse Solovey against Morozko’s wishes, she takes risks, experiences danger with violent bandits, witnesses burned and destroyed villages, meets the Grand Prince, and even reunites with family. Only time will tell if she’s made the right decisions and the commitment may be more than she can bear.

    This second installment has more action and adventure, the addition of new characters, and clues that offer insight to some of the events in the first book. It’s just as enchanting and a little darker than the first. I enjoyed the characters and relationships, especially Vasya’s relationship with Morozko and her horse Solovey.

    When I first began reading, I felt as though I was right back in the first book again and had to remember a few of the characters. It doesn’t take long to pick up and as Vasya’s traveling begins, there’s no telling what will happen next and the book is far from predictable.

    is written in the same enchanting prose as

    and I did enjoy it, but it didn’t captivate me as much as the first. As this book closed with an unexpected ending, I’m even more excited for the third.

    4 ****

    I’d like to thank Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book to read and review.

  • Diane S ☔

    4.5 I have never been a fantasy reader, not sure if this is even considered fantasy. I have, however, always enjoyed history and ancient myths. I like to consider these books folklore and legend brought to life, but may be fooling myself. Either way I fell in love with book one, eagerly awaited this book two, fell into both with immense interest and joy.

    Medieval Russia, superstitions at the forefront, many believe but few can see these creatures of ancient myth. Those who can risk being labeled

    4.5 I have never been a fantasy reader, not sure if this is even considered fantasy. I have, however, always enjoyed history and ancient myths. I like to consider these books folklore and legend brought to life, but may be fooling myself. Either way I fell in love with book one, eagerly awaited this book two, fell into both with immense interest and joy.

    Medieval Russia, superstitions at the forefront, many believe but few can see these creatures of ancient myth. Those who can risk being labeled and burned as a witch. Vasya is one, but she is also a young woman who refuses to slot herself into the limited role available to women. Marry young, bear many children or get thyself to the nunnery. I adore this young woman, her fearlessness, how she refuses to settle for less than she thinks she is capable of, and the way she incorporates and uses what she sees. Her magical horse Solovney, who can hear and understand human speech, who protects Vasya,time and time again. The strange background of her own family which comes into play in this outing, when she finds herself in Moscow, disguised as a young boy. The winter king, the man made of ice and snow, death disguised, with his chilling pale blue eyes, who comes to her aid many times.

    Arden has done such a magnificent job, creating this time period and inserting the reader into the magic that lives all around us if we could only see. There is magic, family, folklore, the arising power of the church, battles, adventure, political uprisings so much. All done cleverly, fitting pieces within pieces to bring color, and personality into this cleverly crafted world. She notes that she has tried to stay true to the history of this period, and this adds an authentic feel to this entertaining story. Such a harsh, bewildering time, so much uncertainty for those in power and those who are not. Now I eagerly await the third in this trilogy, but I already know I will be sad to read the end.

    ARC from Librarything and edelweiss.

  • karen

    NOW AVAILABLE!!!

    this book is that rare second-in-a-trilogy novel that aspires to be more than just a bridge of clockwatching filler between two points. it actually does what the second-in-a-trilogy book

    do, but rarely accomplishes - it progresses the action and allows the character some elbow room in which to grow; to

    what the challenges of the third book will require them

    NOW AVAILABLE!!!

    this book is that rare second-in-a-trilogy novel that aspires to be more than just a bridge of clockwatching filler between two points. it actually does what the second-in-a-trilogy book

    do, but rarely accomplishes - it progresses the action and allows the character some elbow room in which to grow; to

    what the challenges of the third book will require them to be. many middle books seem content to wallow, bloated, twiddling their thumbs, waiting to cash that third-book paycheck, but this one allows for tremendous growth in vasya’s character, presents a situation steadily increasing in danger and complexity, and it is fiery and ferocious as all hell.

    i loved this one every bit as much as

    . it is perfect historical fantasy, which is not a genre i read overmuch, but you don’t have to be an expert in a genre to identify when it is being pulled off perfectly - where the historical details are as quietly compelling as the mythological or fantastical ones, and the writing is lushly detailed in both the gauzy romantic moments and the grit and filth and boredom of the less-embellished realities of 14th century russia. boring for highborn women, anyway, who

    .

    the book is a perfect balance of classical and modern storytelling; descriptions pretty and poetic:

    -

    -

    heroine feminist and fierce:

    vasya is a firecracker. accused of witchcraft, doomed by tradition to the confines of marriage or the convent, she decides “nahhhh, imma dress like a dude and ride a magic horse and boss around a deity and have badass adventures instead!*”

    she’s had to leave so much of herself behind, but she really expands to fill her own heroic storyline. and yeah, having a deus ex machina on retainer does alleviate some of the personal risk, but it wasn’t an overused "out", and the vasya/morozko relationship has its own awkward learning curves:

    so, not all hearts and flowers (and necklaces) and rescuing a (secret) damsel in distress. i appreciate that their interactions are shaped enough like romance to please romance fans without alienating me and my preferences for horseback battles and derring-do.

    i’m unwilling to write a detailed review of this one. with two books on the table, it’s too easy to attract one of those “i am unclear about what constitutes an actual spoiler, but i’m going to scold you tirelessly about it for hours anyway!" folks. i will say that there was some foreshadowing in this one (carried over from the first book) that’s already got me bracing myself for despair.

    which i welcome. i am ready for book three, whatever the emotional cost.

    this was a buddy-read with tadiana and steven! here are their reviews:

    tadiana:

    steven:

    * not, obviously, an actual quote. it’s not

    modern.

    ***********************************

    in what is certainly the most difficult decision anyone has ever had to make - i have been salivating for this book, and i was thrilled when i got approved to read it through netgalley at the beginning of the month, but i am only reading horror for october and i keep worrying about it over there waiting for me, thinking i am not interested in it, but i AM! i'm coming for you soon, book! after the horrors!

  • Emily May

    Magical. Dark. Beautiful. Fans of

    should love this sequel at least as much as its predecessor.

    contains everything I loved about the first book, but I feel like Vasya has really grown as a character. She's still as spirited as always, but older and wiser,

    Magical. Dark. Beautiful. Fans of

    should love this sequel at least as much as its predecessor.

    contains everything I loved about the first book, but I feel like Vasya has really grown as a character. She's still as spirited as always, but older and wiser, and I love it when characters naturally and gradually change and develop as a story progresses.

    Here, the plot picks up shortly after the events of

    . When accusations of witchcraft leave Vasya with an impossible choice between life in a convent or marriage, she chooses option three: disguising herself as a boy and taking off across the wild and rugged landscape of medieval Russia. Vasya's journey leads her to her sister Olga, her brother Sasha, a monk, and her cousin Dmitrii, the Grand Prince of Moscow. She soon gets caught up in lies and deception, and even bigger unrest surrounding the Moscovian rulers.

    How fabulous.

    . Supernatural elements exist alongside the politics and invaders, and the author incorporates both so naturally that it's easy to be convinced that 14th-Century Russia was a land haunted by spirits. Details of everyday life add to the novel's realism, such as the hygiene (or, I should say, lack of) and the dangers lurking in the woods.

    As with the first book,

    gains strength from its atmosphere and strong sense of place. A very vivid picture is painted of this snowy and dangerous landscape, and I was able to plant myself straight inside Vasya's world. Add to this the stifling constraints placed on women of the time, and you have a very emotionally engaging experience.

    I am being careful not to say too much, but this book is definitely worth the read if you enjoyed

    . It is just as gloriously atmospheric and, for me at least, more urgent and fast-paced.

    Also, Morozko has my heart. Yeah, that's the frost demon. I'm not even sorry.

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