Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! That one word could literally suffice to be the entire review for this book because that's all you need to know. Just go buy the first and this one and thank me when you're finished. If ever a book deserved a standing ovation it is this one! If you can't already tell, The Girl in the Tower blew me away. I adored this book- it's story and it's characters, the entire world Katherine Arden has created - with every fiber of my being. The first book, The Bear and the Nightingale was excellent as well. In fact I wondered how she would top that amazing novel but I needn't have worried. This amazing author delivered and then some!
Vasya is among my top two all-time favorite heroines(along with Shazi from Renée Ahdieh's The Wrath and the Dawn duology). I absolutely adore her strength and resilience. Her ability to stay true to herself and her dreams and desires in a time and place that wasn't always kind to girls and women is even more commendable. I also loved getting to know two of her siblings more in this installment. It brought so much more to the series and really filled the story out. I have a major crush on Sasha now - my sexy warrior monk. And I have the utmost respect for Olga. She reminds me more of myself and Vasya is more of who I want to be although both are strong women. And don't even get me started on Morozko- I need more of him in the next book. I do love, though, that there is an amazing fairytale romance in this story but that it isn't front and center. That we get, first and foremost, an amazing story and characters as well as exquisite world-building.
I also really enjoyed all of the adventure in the this second installment of the Winternight trilogy. I loved that we really got to join Vasya on a journey out into the world. And I really really loved the Mulan aspect in this one. Also I've said it about The Bear and the Nightingale and this was true for The Girl in the Tower as well - Katherine Arden has worked some literary magic by weaving together Fantasy and Russian Folklore and giving it a Historical Fiction feel!
Honestly there wasn't one single thing I didn't absolutely love about this book. You have to read this series asap!
*Thanks to BookishFirst, NetGalley, Del Rey, and Penguin Random House for the advance copy for review*