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alysa_h Avatar


Truly excellent. If Arden's previous book was a fairy tale, this follow-up is about the consequences of the fairy tale. It is more grounded, and doesn't shy away from harsh realities for all that it revels in magic and fantasy too. Vasya's journey continues, in wonderful and terrible ways, and we see a lot more of her extended family and of old-timey Russia now that she has left home.

This installment has different subtextual concerns too. Where the first mainly took on religion and spirituality, this one zeroes in more on heroism, responsibility, and gender. I am getting a little tired of the "girl must disguise herself as a boy" trope, but the way it's done here at least makes a great deal of sense given the prescribed role of women in the time and place depicted. And (thank goodness!) Arden does not throw any "confused romance" into the mix. That is to say, there is no pining after any boy who thinks Vasya is also a boy. There is an entirely different sort of romance at play here.

I found myself gasping and laughing and yelling at this book, I was so affected. I didn't want it to end!

(** I received a Review Copy of this book via NetGalley**)