"Every time you take one path, you must live with the memory of the other: of a life left unchosen. Decide as seems best, one course or the other; each way will have its bitter with its sweet.”
The events that happened in the Bear and the Nightingale left Vasilisa Petrovna orphaned and branded as a witch by the people in her small village. She was given two options to choose from: spend the rest of her life in a covenant or allow her older sister to match her with a Moscovite prince. Both of which would imprison her in a tower and cut her off from the things she loves most - the wilderness and her freedom.
Not wanting to burden her brother Alyosha and her younger step-sister Irinka with her bad reputation, Vasya felt she had nothing left in Lesnaya Zemlya. So, with the help of Morozko (the frost demon) and her beloved stallion Solovey, she decides to become a traveler disguised as a boy so that she may explore the world and live freely.
"Thus Vasilisa Petrovna, murderer, savior, lost child, rode away from the house in the fir-grove. The first day ran on as an adventure might, with home behind and the whole world before them."
However, her travels don't go as smoothly as she may have hoped. When she comes across bandits that have been terrorizing the countryside by burning villages and abducting young girls, 'Vasilii Petrovitch' successfully tracks them down and pulls off a daring rescue, which earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow.
Being in Moscow has reunited Vasya with her sister Olga, the Princess of Serpukhov and her brother Alexsandr, a well known traveling monk. Together they try to keep Vasilisa's gender a secret from their cousin Dmitrii Ivanovitch, the Grand Prince, so that they may remain in his good graces. However, the bandits were never the real problem, its who was commanding them. The kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces, and Vasilisa is the only one who can stop it - will they let a wild girl, branded as a witch, save them?
The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden is the second book of her Winternight trilogy. This a fantasy retelling of the Russian fairy tale Vasilisa the brave/beautiful.
This book begins where the first leaves off, so it was very easy for me to get lost in the story again. Katherine Arden's writing is poetic - its beautifully descriptive and full of emotion. While The Bear and the Nightingale had more of a slower pace (being the introductory book), The Girl in the Tower reads much more quickly.
There aren't a lot of new characters given in this book, most of them are ones we've already met in part one. However, we get to know them all so much better, which I really enjoyed! I loved seeing not only how Vasilisa grows and changes, but her siblings and even the frost-demon himself, too. They all go through trails and have issues of their own to deal with, Vasilisa especially; she learns quit a few lessons the hard way. One of the newer characters in this story is Marya, Olga's daughter, and I really hope to see more of her in the third book. There are a few mysteries from book one that are revieled in this part, giving us even more of an understanding of her family.
There was no romance in book one, but in this book there was just a touch of it, which I didn't mind. I actually really enjoyed it, and I'm excited to see where that goes.
Overall, I feel this is the perfect sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale. There's tons of action and its full of fairy tale creatures and adventures. Thankfully, just like the first book, The Girl in the Tower doesn't end on a cliffhanger. We end with Vasilisa set out on another adventure. One I can't wait to read about!
**** I received an eBook copy of this title via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Random House publishing! ****