Trigger Warning: Attempted sexual assault
In The Girl in the Tower, Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, she has only two options left: marriage or the convent. She cannot bring herself to accept either fate and instead chooses adventure, dressing herself as a boy and setting off astride her magnificent stallion Solovey.
But after she prevails in a skirmish with bandits, everything changes. The Grand Prince of Moscow anoints her a hero for her exploits, and she is reunited with her beloved sister and brother, who are now part of the Grand Prince’s inner circle. She dares not reveal to the court that she is a girl, for if her deception were discovered it would have terrible consequences for herself and her family. Before she can untangle herself from Moscow’s intrigues—and as Frost provides counsel that may or may not be trustworthy—she will also confront an even graver threat lying in wait for all of Moscow itself (Goodreads, 2017).
Things I Enjoyed: This was a great sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale. Katherine Arden manages to maintain a fairytale like atmosphere even as Vasya descends into the grubby world of medieval Moscow politics. Though not a medieval scholar, as a history buff, I felt like the author did a great job of recreating the reality of Muscovite life for the readers.
Just like in Book 1, I enjoyed seeing the fairytale characters of my childhood re-imagined. I will say that it was a little strange at first to see Morozko as a love interest for Vasya since I grew up seeing him as a grandfatherly figure. However over time, I grew to like the two as a couple being a sucker for potentially doomed romance (though I will always root for a happily ever after).
Lastly, I enjoyed seeing Vasya getting to finally experience the wider world. It was sweet how childlike her delight was when it came to certain staples of town/city life. Though her reunion with her siblings was bittersweet, I loved Vasya’s interactions with her niece Marya (who happens to share my name). Those two are so similar and I hope that Vasya can be a mentor to the little girl as the series continues.
Things I Disliked/Found Confusing/Would Have Changed: This is one of the rare books where I have nothing critical to say about it.
Overall Thoughts: Katherine Arden has created a fabulous sequel with The Girl in the Tower. I highly recommend this book and the entire series. If you enjoy fairytale re-tellings this is definitely a book for you. 5 out of 5 stars for me.
Quotes I Enjoyed/Found Significant:
Think of me sometimes. When the snowdrops have bloomed and the snow has melted
Suddenly she was furious that he would kiss her, give her gifts and leave her without a word
Living is both better and worse than fairytales