The Winter of the Witch

The Winter of the Witch

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.Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds...

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Title:The Winter of the Witch
Author:Katherine Arden
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Winter of the Witch Reviews

  • kath | novelandfolk

    You know that feeling when you find a book that speaks to some deep part of your soul and you just want to shout:

    This folkloric trilogy has become that for me, reminding me of all the reasons why I love literature.

    It’s not a secret that I loved the first two books in this deep-winter tale with the burning fire of a thousand suns. So you can imagine how much I needed this book in my hands, and also how stressful a thing it is to embark into the last instalment of a beloved

    You know that feeling when you find a book that speaks to some deep part of your soul and you just want to shout:

    This folkloric trilogy has become that for me, reminding me of all the reasons why I love literature.

    It’s not a secret that I loved the first two books in this deep-winter tale with the burning fire of a thousand suns. So you can imagine how much I needed this book in my hands, and also how stressful a thing it is to embark into the last instalment of a beloved series. The final book can make or break your opinion of the story as a whole. Am I jaded? Okay, maybe a little. I’ve been let down countless times by second and third book syndrome.

    But I am thrilled to say that not only was it a most satisfying conclusion, but it exceeded my every hope. It was utter perfection from the first page until the last and I may go so far as to say it could be the strongest book of the three.

    Just as with

    , we pick up where the previous story ended and right out of the gate we are put through some very harrowing scenes. Goodness, they put me through a lot of anxiety. The stakes are so much higher this time around and from those first moments onward I could not look away - the story barrels onward at a relentless pace. And now we finally see the full scope that Arden intended. The culmination of everything she was building towards in the perfectly paced slow burn of The Bear and the Nightingale, and the riotous action of The Girl in the Tower. It feels seamless how it has all come together and I’m just so giddy with delight.

    Our girl, Vasya, is no longer a just a plucky, naive child. From the ashes of the Moscow fire she has risen into a woman with incredible new strength in more ways than one. But of course she remains wonderfully flawed - her character has even more dimension than ever. Arden has shown how much she really knows her characters because they have truly carried this story and made it heart-wrenching in all the best ways. She can make you feel for even the most minor supporting characters with just a few lines.

    I think Studio Ghibli fans will appreciate the whimsical details in this one. Think magical midnight roads, loveable forest spirits (hello new favourite sidekick character), man-beasts, but written for grownups. And yet this tale will bring out the childlike wonder in even the most grown up of grownups. It’s delightfully subversive too- it upends the age old tropes of princes winning maidens, of monsters being slain. So many mischievous plot twists I did NOT expect.

    I was also not prepared at all for these f e e l i n g s. I am still filled to the brim with them. This book broke me, then slowly pieced me back together until I whooped with triumphant glee at the very end. And there is a certain PART that made me all asdkjfkslsjfks. You’ll know it when you get there. Just you wait.

    As much as I’m dying to discuss the finer details, I really can’t spoil the fun. I know - I KNOW - we’re all waiting to hear if a certain Winter King makes his appearance. All I can say is the scent of cold water and pine will forever make me swoon.

    I gave this book a big, loving, emotionally exhausted hug when it was over. The ending was perfect and that is a rare thing so it probably shouldn’t be tampered with. BUT. I love these characters so damn much, my heart is crying for more more

    of their adventures.

    And that’s it. I can now wholeheartedly say: this,

    is my favourite series of all time. If I could persuade you to read one thing, let this be it. You may just love it as much as I do.

  • Melanie

    1.)

    ★★★★★

    2.)

    ★★★★★

    This is a hard review for me to write, because I think my heart doesn’t want to admit that this series is finally over. But it is, and this concluding book was everything I wanted. I cr

    1.)

    ★★★★★

    2.)

    ★★★★★

    This is a hard review for me to write, because I think my heart doesn’t want to admit that this series is finally over. But it is, and this concluding book was everything I wanted. I cried, I felt gutted, I got my heart broken, but somehow Katherine Arden healed the pieces back together.

    Where do I even begin to tell you what this story is about without spoiling anything with a review about the final book. This is a book about the bonds of family, blood and found, and doing whatever it takes to protect the ones you love. This is a book about religion and the beautiful and terrible things people are willing to do in the name of it. This is a book about all the different pieces that make a person, and how it is okay to love them all even if others won’t. But this is ultimately a book about a girl becoming the hero of her own story every single time, no matter who or what tries to block her path.

    But I suppose

    is a Russian inspired fantasy that stars a family living on the edge of the unforgiving Russian wilderness. And our main character grew up on fairy tales, but always hungered for more. And she soon realizes that maybe there was some truth in those tales, and she encounters a frost-demon named Morozko who makes magic a reality before her very eyes.

    This story picks up right after the events of

    in Moscow, and Konstantin Nikonvich’s vengeance knows no bounds. And a bear demon named Medved is happy to aid with the chaos in any way they possibly can. We also get to see Marya, Olga, Sasha, and Dmitrii on very different journeys through this pain and heartbreak. But we also get to see Vasya learn new things about herself and her ancestors, while even venturing into a new land unlike any other. And I truly think this concluding novel was damn close to perfection.

    Following Vasya, seeing her go to battle for Russia, go to battle for her family, go to battle for herself, has been a journey like none other that I’ve ever experienced while reading. Katherine Arden pulls from a lot of historical events and themes, but I’m convinced that this equal parts harrowing and heartening fairytale that she crafted is the real timeline that happened. I’ll be completely honest, this is a hard review to write, and not because it’s the last book in a series, but because I am in awe of what a damn masterpiece this entire story is. It doesn't even feel real that I have this story in my hands, that I get to read it, I get to love it, I get to experience this beautiful tale that feels so whimsical but so real. The actual blessings.

    Overall, this is just one of my favorite trilogies of all time, and I think it always will be. This story just truly has every element that I’m in love with in literature; lyrical writing, winter setting, fae folks of all varieties, strong sibling bonds, heart wrenching romance, and girls becoming the hero of their story. Katherine Arden and this trilogy is a gift from a higher power and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

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    for talk of death during childbirth, graphic animal death, graphic torture, graphic violence, sexual assault (unwanted touching), threat of rape, death, murder, blood depictions, slavery, captivity, and war themes.

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  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    ALL THE STARS AND MORE.

    Review first posted on

    :

    Medieval Russia comes to life in Katherine Arden’s WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY, which began in Lesnaya Zemlya, a small village in northern Rus’ in

    and continued in

    . Vasilisa (Vasya) is a young woman with the rare ability to see and speak with the natural spirits or chyerti of the hearth, stables, and lands and waters of Rus’. Vasya has gained the attention and respect of t

    ALL THE STARS AND MORE.

    Review first posted on

    :

    Medieval Russia comes to life in Katherine Arden’s WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY, which began in Lesnaya Zemlya, a small village in northern Rus’ in

    and continued in

    . Vasilisa (Vasya) is a young woman with the rare ability to see and speak with the natural spirits or chyerti of the hearth, stables, and lands and waters of Rus’. Vasya has gained the attention and respect of the winter-king Morozko, god of death, who has helped her along the way as she fought and bound the demonic Bear, traveled from Lesnaya Zemlya to Moscow, and undertook a dangerous masquerade as a boy while fighting to protect Moscow and her family from both an evil sorcerer and the Mongol invaders.

    begins in the aftermath of a huge fire that burned much of Moscow. The distraught people of Moscow are whipped into a rage by Vasya’s nemesis, the priest Konstantin, who blames Vasya for the fire (with some justice). Vasya is captured by a mob and nearly burned to death as a witch. Though she escapes, a tragic loss leaves her reeling, and now a terrible price has been paid on her behalf. The Bear is on the loose again, pulling Konstantin into his plans for war and chaos, and Morozko has disappeared into some hidden prison. The vast Tatar armies, the Golden Horde, are still on the move against Moscow, and Vasya has perilous journeys to make through magical midnight lands as she tries to save her country and the humans and spirits that she loves. Vasya has gained in personal strength and magical power from her beginnings in the village of Lesnaya Zemlya, but she still makes some serious mistakes along the way.

    In the WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY, Arden has proved herself particularly adept at weaving together folklore and actual history.

    focuses on the events leading up to the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380, but puts a fantastical spin on it. As the country lurches toward war, Vasya is guided into the midnight realm of Polunochnitsa, or Lady Midnight, where she meets not only one of her ancestors ― a famous Russian folklore character in her own right ― but the mythical firebird, Pozhar (whose other form is a golden mare), and a delightfully opinionated mushroom spirit that Vasya called Ded Grib (Grandfather Mushroom). Pozhar and Ded Grib represent the high and the lowly among the chyerti, whom Vasya is trying to protect along with the humans who inhabit Russia. Even Medved, the fearsome Bear who played such a terrifying role in The Bear and the Nightingale, becomes more understandable and sympathetic, or at least much more entertaining as a character. It’s a nice reminder that even villains have some positive characteristics.

    The tensions between Christianity and the old pagan ways, humans vs. chyerti, are ultimately resolved in a way that I hadn’t expected, but that I found profoundly moving, and Arden’s writing style is entrancing.

    is not just the coming-of-age story of a girl with magical powers, or a romance, though it has both of those elements; it deals with larger themes, like love of country, individual worth, self-sacrifice, and cooperation with those who are different. The WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY was a wonderful series from beginning to end, and I give it my highest recommendation.

    Five stars! SO, so good!! Amazing wrap-up to this fantasy trilogy set in medieval Russia. I love how this weaves Russian folklore into actual history, and deals with larger themes, like love of country.

    Plus it made me cry.

    If you haven't read this trilogy yet, I highly recommend it!

    YES! I finally got the ARC of this last book in this trilogy (which began with

    )!! Now can I keep my hands off it for a couple of weeks while I read a few other books in my urgent TBR pile? We'll see ...

    Content notes: a fair amount of gritty violence and a non-explicit sex scene.

  • Paromjit

    Katherine Arden completes the wonder that is the stellar Winternight trilogy, and leaves me in pieces, distraught with a deep sense of loss that this is the end. This is epic storytelling as it begins with the ashes of Moskva and a traumatised people susceptible to the charismatic priest Konstantin, a man overcome by a maelstrom of feelings, with fear of Vasya dominating. Branded a witch and pariah, Vasya is to be tested beyond human endurance, acquiring a fire within, wracked with grief and los

    Katherine Arden completes the wonder that is the stellar Winternight trilogy, and leaves me in pieces, distraught with a deep sense of loss that this is the end. This is epic storytelling as it begins with the ashes of Moskva and a traumatised people susceptible to the charismatic priest Konstantin, a man overcome by a maelstrom of feelings, with fear of Vasya dominating. Branded a witch and pariah, Vasya is to be tested beyond human endurance, acquiring a fire within, wracked with grief and loss. Immersed in magic within the vast enchanted lands of Midnight, she travels exhausted and broken, becoming aware of her family history and legacy, making her the heir to her unforgiving great grandmother, but Vasya has much to learn. The winter king, the death god Morozko, has sacrificed himself for Vasya, but at a terrible price as the spirit of chaos, the bear, is unleashed on a Moscow already on its knees, as the diminished power of the chyerti leaves its open to the further incoming bloodlust, death and destruction.

    The Grand Prince of Moskva, Dmitrii, Vasya's cousin is beseiged by dangers from all sides, the rising power of Konstantin, now discarding all remnants of his Christian faith for a devil's bargain with the bear in return for power. The Tatars with vast forces of fighting men, under the leadership of Mamai, seek silver from Dmitrii, with plans to decimate and conquer Rus through war, if the silver is unforthcoming. Terrified for her family and Rus, Vasya seeks Morozko, unprepared for what she finds. In this dark fairytale, Vasya comes of age, becomes a woman, becoming aware of her abilities, exercising her magic and rallying to become the third force of power as many chyerti, and Pozhar, the firebird, form an alliance with her. Magic, however, is a gift and a curse, rich in its temptations, but exposing her to an all consuming madness that threatens all that ties her to her family, Rus, humanity, and love. To fight the forces that threaten Rus and her family, Vasya ventures into unthinkable terrritory, making common cause with the spirit of chaos, revealing they share more more than she has forseen. Only unity can offer the miniscule hope of winning the David and Goliath battles that loom, offering a future for co-existence between Christian, Pagan and the Grand Prince, and the foundation for an independent Rus.

    War rallies disparate parties but inevitably horror, loss and grief are its repercussions, and nothing Vasya can do can prevent the gravest of loss as her grief overflows. The waters of death and the waters of life offer some much needed amelioration as a close spirit joyfully returns. Katherine Arden has taken the framework of actual Russian history, and weaves a spellbinding tale of Vasya, a young woman unwilling to accept convention on the role of women, challenging the path of either marriage or the convent, the only options available. Arden's storytelling is atmospheric, vital, vibrant and unforgettable. It is outstanding, feminist, conjoining the mortal with the immortal, and located in the rich mythology and legends of Russian folklore. I don't know what Arden will do next, but I guarantee whatever it is, I will be reading it without fail. What can I say?? Just read this. Many thanks to Random House Ebury for an ARC.

  • Amalia Gavea

    It is seldom that the third book of a trilogy ends up being the finest. However, this is exactly what happened with

    . The final installment of a saga created with absolute beauty and dark grace by Katherine Arden is one to remember and cherish, in a

    It is seldom that the third book of a trilogy ends up being the finest. However, this is exactly what happened with

    . The final installment of a saga created with absolute beauty and dark grace by Katherine Arden is one to remember and cherish, in a trilogy that defied all genres and labels, making its way to be a classic. I firmly believe that The Winternight Trilogy will keep company to generations of readers who will fall in love with the wealth of the Russian culture, the myths, the legends, the traditions.

    Three things are the ones that make the trilogy perfect: a supreme heroine, the exquisite descriptions of the Russian landscape and the theme of the never-ending battle between the old world and the new, the pagan beliefs and the Christian religion. All these elements are done to perfection in the 3rd book. As Vasya fights for survival, justice and balance, she undertakes a long journey to a harsh, mystical haunting realm. Arden’s writing is extraordinarily beautiful as we are wondering in the land of Midnight or the scorching Moscow summer. The scenery changes and changes and along with it Vasya is transformed. The glorious city, the realms of magic, everything is a part of a greater world and everything is a link in a chain that must not break because a dangerous foe is approaching, a horde that doesn’t care for the old and the new, desiring to establish its own dynasty.

    Arden gives us princesses and princes, knights and priests. Wise women, artists, animals touched by magic. Demons and spirits of nature. The entire Russian folklore lives in the pages of the book and it never looked more beautiful, more mystical, more threatening. Marya Morevna, the Baba Yaga, the Firebird and the chyerti, the domovoi and the upyr in a particularly powerful, shocking chapter. Polunochnitsa and her dark domain, the Midday demon, the horses of legends, the women graced (or cursed) with the Sight. These are the pawns of the fight between the living and what they can’t see, the world they can’t believe in. The division that feeds their need to destroy what they fear because they are unable to understand.

    I cannot begin to tell you how much I adore the relationship between Vasya and Morozov and here their dynamic is more electrifying than ever. Is it strange and dark and possibly twisted? Well, it may be and this is exactly what makes me love them so much. They are my favourite literary couple, after Heathcliff and Catherine, and yes, I know I am weird. Vasya continues to remain one of my favourite female protagonists, not only because of her bravery and determination but mostly because Arden chose to make her as real as she could given the premise of the story. She doesn’t refrain from fear and insecurity and despair or even one or two questionable decisions and this is how you create a believable, relatable main character in a fantasy setting. Strange as it may sound, though, the character I was always anxious to meet in a chapter was Konstantin. He is desperate and lost and all sorts of confused and you cannot help but be hypnotized by his presence. His chemistry with Vasya is explosive.

    So, I am sad to leave the Winternight universe. A trilogy created through haunting sceneries, an exceptional cast of characters, impeccable dialogue and endless respect to the immortal heritage of the Russian tradition, Katherine Arden, thank you for three marvelous journeys.

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

    My reviews can also be found on

  • Debra

    "There is nothing but power in this world. People are divided into those who have it and those who have it not. Which will you be....."

    There is a lot of power in the final book of the Winternight Trilogy. This book starts off where

    ends. If you have not read the first two books in the series, it is imperative that you read them first otherwise you will not know what is going on in this book.

    I am not even going to attempt to give a synopsis of the book. There is just so muc

    "There is nothing but power in this world. People are divided into those who have it and those who have it not. Which will you be....."

    There is a lot of power in the final book of the Winternight Trilogy. This book starts off where

    ends. If you have not read the first two books in the series, it is imperative that you read them first otherwise you will not know what is going on in this book.

    I am not even going to attempt to give a synopsis of the book. There is just so much going on, but I will say that I appreciate how Arden has one book flow into the next. I also love that these books are based on Russian fairy-tales/folklore and history. I am not a big fan of fantasy, but this series worked for me. Although,

    was my favorite, this one served as a very nice conclusion. It is darker, there is more danger, lives are lost (some are just gut wrenching), battles are fought and won, there is romance (finally!), and Vasya really comes into her own (and her power). Plus, we get re-acquainted with favorite characters from the series (Solovey and Morozko for me), plus there are villains. I will admit, even though he is a villain, I couldn't help but like and snicker at the Bear a.k.a Medved. Then there are the new characters and realms/worlds, such as Midnight, which was a nice addition to the story and serves to give Vasya more knowledge about her family.

    "There are no monsters in the world, and no saints. Only infinite shades woven into the same tapestry, light and dark. One man's monster is another man's beloved. The wise know that."

    There is a lot going on in this book and at times, the action felt drawn out. At times, I wanted it to move a little faster. A plus, in this book, is the vivid descriptions. We are dealing with a real place (Russia) but also with another world, magic, magical creatures, etc. so it helped tremendously that Arden gave the reader detailed descriptions. I found it was easy to visualize the book as I read.

    I believe most fans of this series will like how the trilogy ends. I like that Vasya made her own decisions and stood by them. She remained a strong female character throughout the series and ended strong.

    3.5 stars rounded up

    Thank you to Random House Publishing - Ballantine and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

  • Candace Robinson

    Do-do-do-do-do ... so I fought back and forth with this book the whole read. I was bored a lot during the first 40%, then things got interesting, then I got bored again, then things were magnanimous. But, Frost Demon, you make every scene you are in worth reading. I seriously think I would have enjoyed it more if he had his own POV. Like we get POVs from a lot of others, but never my boy! Whyyyyyyyy nottttttttt??????????

    At times my issues came with Vasya. I felt sometimes she needed more emotion

    Do-do-do-do-do ... so I fought back and forth with this book the whole read. I was bored a lot during the first 40%, then things got interesting, then I got bored again, then things were magnanimous. But, Frost Demon, you make every scene you are in worth reading. I seriously think I would have enjoyed it more if he had his own POV. Like we get POVs from a lot of others, but never my boy! Whyyyyyyyy nottttttttt??????????

    At times my issues came with Vasya. I felt sometimes she needed more emotions? I guess? Sometimes, or a lot of the time, I can be a robotic person so I do get that. Also, when it came to Morozko, I would have preferred more of a team effort when it came to certain things. A lot of the time these days, as I've said before, authors are making the girls so bad ass and then the guy seems like a pathetic weakling. I want a team effort—equality—not the guy saying, "let's go hide in a corner," and then the girl is all like, "I'm going to go win this war!" I don't get it... Yet there were some perfect scenes between Vasya and Morozko that were so good and swoooooooon! 

    When it came to the Winter of the Witch, not sure if the right word is political or if the book felt like it had more of an agenda, but when it came to that stuff, I was just like come on already! I want more of the magical feel I first felt! But don't worry, there are some gorgeous scenes, too.

    Anyway, the book was beautifully written. I just miss the whimsical/fairy tale feel of the first book and the intriguing feeling I had while reading the second book. Also Konstantin, the creep, is still crazy! His character is so interesting at times, but I also want to smack him for his insane thoughts. I will say that the Bear is probably one of my new favorite characters—ever. And Sasha I still love more than anything. Overall I did like the way it came to an end, but can a certain character get their own book now???

  • Miranda Reads

    Seriously, why isn't this book out??? I don't think I can wait much longer.

  • شيماء ✨

    I have a disease that makes me violently ship strong female characters with the all-powerful and seemingly monstrous love interests who only have a soft spot for them. It's called being a fucking genius.

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