This is the second book in the Winternight Trilogy. If you didn’t read the first one, you can pick this one up and still understand what is happening. So in that regard, this could be read as a standalone. However, I strongly recommend reading this first book, The Bear and the Nightingale. This book felt easier to read but I believe it had more to do with I knew what to expect. I knew there would be Russian words and customs that would be hard to understand.
This author creates strong characters and powerful descriptions of the places in the story. I had no trouble picturing every aspect of this book. It flowed like a storm or maybe a snowball, it started slowly with a hint of adventure and then increased in intensity and action. Once I got about 20% into the book I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. I love this story. Vasilisa adds so much value to all those around her, yet because she is a girl she is discounted. That was hard for to read because I wanted to shout, “Look at what she is doing for everyone. Get a clue, men.” The fact that I actually yelled at some of the characters gives you a clue as to how good it was.
If you are an avid reader you may understand what I’m about to say, or if you’re a little nutty like me. This story is not a fairytale retelling but feels like a new fairy tale she created. The words the author uses create an almost fuzzy soft picture like feeling in my head. Let me put it another way. She used the words of her story to paint a soft mystical painting for the reader. (I hope that makes sense). Perhaps she was going for the feeling you might get if you were snuggled in a cabin with a nice fire on a quiet snowy night. That’s why I loved it so much.
A remarkable young woman blazes her own trail, from the backwoods of Russia to the court of Moscow, in this enchanting novel by the bestselling author of The Bear and the Nightingale
Katherine Arden’s enchanting first novel introduced readers to an irresistible heroine. Vasilisa has grown up at the edge of a Russian wilderness, where snowdrifts reach the eaves of her family’s wooden house and there is truth in the fairy tales told around the fire. Vasilisa’s gift for seeing what others do not won her the attention of Morozko—Frost, the winter demon from the stories—and together they saved her people from destruction. But Frost’s aid comes at a cost, and her people have condemned her as a witch.
Now Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, the only options left for her are marriage or the convent. She cannot bring herself to accept either fate and instead chooses adventure, dressing herself as a boy and setting off astride her magnificent stallion Solovey.
But after Vasilisa prevails in a skirmish with bandits, everything changes. The Grand Prince of Moscow anoints her a hero for her exploits, and she is reunited with her beloved sister and brother, who are now part of the Grand Prince’s inner circle. She dares not reveal to the court that she is a girl, for if her deception were discovered it would have terrible consequences for herself and her family. Before she can untangle herself from Moscow’s intrigues—and as Frost provides counsel that may or may not be trustworthy—she will also confront an even graver threat lying in wait for all of Moscow itself.
**I received a copy of this through NetGaley**