It has been a while since I gave two books in the same series 5 stars. This series may not be given 5 stars by everyone but it is currently a gem of a tale.
I love that I was getting Moana and Elisabeth das Musical feels through this book. (What is Elisabeth das Musical? Only one of the greatest non-American musicals of all time ... where Elisabeth of Austria falls in love with Death. Boom. Piqued your interest now, right?)
Anyway. This book was interesting because it added to the puzzle of life and where Vasya stands in it. Struggling with self identity, she wants to be more than what society limits her to be. Does she wish to choose a life where she is free from anything? Does she wish to choose a life a woman - married and growing old? Or does she wish to be with Death? ... Speaking of Death, what is his game in this all?
I really liked that the relationship explored in this book is not one so overtly exposed as insta-love. I like that it built. I love that she defied him. I like that Vasya did not understand love at first, nor desired it. Katherine Arden wrote a really interesting relationship that ends in one of the those cliffhangers that is not only sad, but fitting and leaves me wondering what will come of book three and its ending?
There are so many more things to say, but if you enjoy Russian folklore, Labyrinth, Elisabeth das Musical, ghost stories, freedom, love, acceptance, and... girls crossdressing as guys to prove them wrong (so, Mulan)... you gotta read this book. But start with the first one.