In the follow-up to The Bear and the Nightingale, we catch up with Vasya not long after she fled her home following the death of her father and step-mother. In an act of ultimate projection, she’s been accused of witchcraft by the total creep-fest priest, Konstantin, and has to disguise herself as a boy to escape the patriarchy (marriage & convents, ew). After linking up with the frost demon Morozko and their respective sassy horses, the two embark on a buddy comedy called Made In Moscow or The Byzantine Brothers, with new episodes airing weekly on NBC.
**I’m using humor to distract from the fact that it’s been a few weeks since I read this and kinda forgot what happened—BUT it’s all coming back to me now I swear!
After reading better reviewers’ synopsizes, I actually do remember how I felt during The Girl in the Tower for the most part. This sequel was a lot more political than the last book, with Vasya having to navigate complicated power dynamics while also concealing her identity. Her only two siblings that matter, Sasha and Olga, are there in Moscow with her, both trying to protect her from outside forces as well as from her own dangerous impulses. (The two other brothers, one of whom I forgot was even a thing, basically don’t exist in this novel, so don’t bother trying to remember their names.)
The villains of this book feel less defined. They’re more ambiguously human and less ‘evil one-eyed bear’ or straight-up Frollo. I did get kind of lost for a bit in the Kasyan vs Morozko beef, but I’m like 85% sure I got it now. Vasya serves total Mulan vibes as she gets ready to assume her Final Form™ The Winter of the Witch, the final installment of Katherine Arden’s trilogy.
Please don’t take my flippant tone as a representation of the book or series. I used all my ~*fancy words*~ for my review of the first novel, and felt this cosmic pull to balance out all of that gushing with references to Disney movies from the 90s and Celine Dion. If you enjoyed The Bear and the Nightingale, you’ll also like Arden’s latest installment as well.