The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy, #3)by Katherine Arden
Published on January 8, 2019
by Del Rey Books
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mythology
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Also by this author: The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy, #2), Small Spaces
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.
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.
I’ve sung this trilogy’s praises since The Bear and the Nightingale and I will continue to declare my love for these books. Katherine Arden has affirmed herself as one of my auto-buy authors, with her talent for balancing the mystical with the historical, and making the ordinary world full of magic among the grit. The Winter of the Witch is just as captivating as its predecessors. Picking up right where The Girl in the Tower leaves off, Vasya is on a quest to fight for Russia’s safety as well as the well-being of the mythical creatures she’s come to embrace as family.
Where exactly do I start? The action scenes are engaging. The writing still moves with the dreamy beauty of a fairy tale. There are several scenes that had my heart jumping to my throat. Vasya’s mystical legacy is revealed. The emotion in each chapter never lets up. I was bawling my eyes out in the first 30 pages of The Winter of the Witch and couldn’t stop for a good twenty minutes. Then I was crying more near the end.
And yet I had some minor quibbles with Vasya this time around. Some of her choices, done on whims, have major consequences that are aggravating. She has grown a lot–moreso out of necessity– but in this book, she seems more immature compared to when we first met her. The major choices just seemed un-Vasya. It also takes a good portion of the book for the plot to actually kick in. Things happen at leisure or diffuse after buildup.
And the frost demon Morozko is almost a non-entity in the book. Granted, Morozko is a fleeting presence in the first two books, but in here, he vanishes for a major portion of the story and feels more like a plot device. However, the scenes between him and Vasya still have that sparkling chemistry, and there is one moment that had me internally screaming with joy. My love for him is never going away.
I still love this series and see a lot of possibilities with spin offs (Katherine, can we get a book about Morozko, please and thank you). Whatever Katherine Arden decides, I will treasure the series as it is.