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Book Review: The Girl in The Tower

You know a book is well written when you are so engrossed in it that you don’t even realise when you reached the last page.

The Girl in The Tower starts where The Bear and The Nightingale ended.

After the death of her father and step-mother, Vasya leaves home to escape death in the hands of the villagers or a life in convent. She embarks upon an adventurous journey on her horse and reaches the abode of the Winter King. From there she moves ahead, dressed as a boy, to see the world. Her journey takes her to Moscow with her brother Sasha.

In Moscow is Vasya’s elder sister Olga, who is happily managing her household. Her daughter also sees the Domovoi and ghosts, just like Vasya. In Moscow begins another struggle for Vasya as she must protect her identity at all costs because the Prince of Moscow thinks very highly of the boy Vasilii and giving up her identity now would cause immense trouble for her brother and sister.

The novel starts same as the first part, with a Russian folktale, full of supernatural elements, which Olga narrates to other women and children of her Tower. The narrative is fast and interesting. The story builds with every page and before long you are dying to know what’s next for Vasya.

Vasya, as a character has really grown from a headstrong, stubborn girl to a wise young woman without losing her sense of independence. She is a woman in a man’s world and she keeps fighting the constraints put on her by the medieval Russian society.

The brilliance in Katherine Arden’s writing is such that you will find yourself riding and walking with Vasya, feeling devastated with her, angry for her and rooting for her all the way to the end. And also, a special mention for our very own Frost Demon. How can one not fall for him? For he is powerful, he is frost and he is vulnerable too. The way he takes care of Vasya and protects her is enough to melt anyone’s heart.

And now, I am impatiently waiting for third book of the series.

My rating: 4.8/5

 

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Book review: The Bear and the Nightingale

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“But seasons turn and seasons change

The Wind blows from the south

The fires cone, the storms, the spears

The sorrow and the dark”

The caption of the novel says ‘Beware the evil in the woods’ and aptly so. Katherine Arden’s story, The Bear and the Nightingale is based on the Russian fairy tale of the frost-demon, the winter-king Karachun or better known as Morozko, the demon of winter. When the story starts, Pyotr Vladimirovich’s household is a happy one with his wife, four children and an old nurse, Dunya. But by the time winter comes, his wife Marina has died in childbirth leaving a daughter, Vasilisa, fondly called Vasya, in Pyotr and Dunya’s arms making them promise to protect her.

Vasilisa grows up to be a brash girl with no inclination towards household works and a penchant for horse riding and weapons. While she struggles with the fixed roles of women in the society, she also feels the presence of magical creatures around her. With time, her father remarries and Vasya’s stepmother can also see the creatures but she thinks of them as demons and is always scared. The creatures or the house sprites protect the houses and animals from the dead. Soon after Pyotr remarries, a new priest comes to the village, Father Konstantin and he is waylaid by a demonic power and he forbids the people from feeding the sprites thereby weakening the protection around them. And the dead attack along with the Bear and it is left upon Vasya to fight them alone with her stepmother and Father Konstantin hindering her path at every step.

Set in medieval Russia the book is full of magic and mystery. The characters are brilliantly developed and the fantastical world will have you crave for more. The book will hold on to you from the first page to the last leaving you enchanted. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to reach me for I want to dive into Katherine Arden’s magical world once again.

My rating: 5/5