Trigger Warning: death, violence
Spoiler Alert: Some minor spoilers will be revealed if you haven’t read books 1 or 2 of the series
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 (Goodreads, 2019).
Things I Enjoyed: This was a great conclusion to the Winternight Trilogy. It picks up shortly after Book 2 and I would say that Winter of the Witch is the most action packed of the trilogy. What I enjoyed most about this book, and this series as a whole, is how well Katherine Arden manages to balance the historical and fantastical elements of this story. In this book, we meet several new creatures from Russian folklore and get to experience, albeit a somewhat fictionalized version of, one of the most famous battles in early Russian history.
I also though that Vasya experiences the most character growth in this book. In books 1 and 2 she is still somewhat a child, who believes in fairytales. In book 3 however, Vasya is forced by a traumatic experience to finally grow up and recognize that the world is not as black and white as she originally thought. In fact, it has a lot of grey areas and this is made most evident in the change in her interactions as well as her attitude towards The Bear. I honestly hadn’t expected to see the Bear again, but ended up enjoying how his arc was wrapped up.
Finally, I appreciated seeing how Vasya’s romance with Morozko matures. There is a significant age differences between the two and I feel like too often that difference is glossed over in fiction. That is why I enjoyed the fact that Katherine Arden chose to emphasize the difference in age and experience and allow it cause misunderstandings between the two characters. It is only in Winter of the Witch that Vasya is able to fully explore and understand the extent of her feelings for Morozko. Her newfound maturity is what allows her to finally act on her feelings for him and they are able to reach an understanding regarding the shape that their relationship will take.
Things I Didn’t Enjoy/Found Confusing/Would Have Changed: I thoroughly enjoyed the series and couldn’t find anything I would have liked to have been done differently.
Overall Thoughts: This was a great story of a female heroine finally coming into her power. I highly recommend Winter of the Witch as well as the entire Winternight Trilogy. This was definitely a 5 out of 5 star read for me and one of my favorite books of 2021.
Quotes I Enjoyed/Found Significant:
Magic makes men mad. They forget what is real, because too much is possible.
Love is for those who know the griefs of time for it goes hand in hand with loss. An eternity so burden would be a torment.
The tie between them now- layers of passion and anger, fear and fragile hope, was stronger than any magical jewel
She wanted him to be a monster, but monsters were for children.