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The Girl in the Tower

I recently finished reading The Girl in the Tower, the second novel in the Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden. After the conclusion of The Bear and the Nightingale, Vasilisa’s life has changed forever. Unable to return to the simple life in her father’s holding, Vasilisa decides to travel. Although Medvedev, the Bear is bound again, Morozko, the Winter King, warns Vasilisa not to leave the safety of the northern forests. Determined as always, Vasilisa takes her stallion Solovey, and travels through the vast Russian forests. Vasilisa happens upon a bandit campsite and rescues several kidnapped girls. When Vasilisa seeks refuge for herself and the kidnapped girls, she finds the nearby monastery and her brother, Sasha, the warrior-monk. Since travelling on the road alone, Vasilisa has disguised herself as a boy. Relieved that Vasilisa is not dead as he had feared, Sasha agrees for Vasilisa to continue her disguise. For Sasha does not travel alone, but in the company of the Grand Prince of Moscow. Conscious of Vasilisa’s safety and reputation, Sasha takes Vasilisa directly to their sister Olga’s household in Moscow where Olga is now the Princess of Septecov. Vasilisa is reunited with Olga but delight quickly becomes restlessness as the claustrophobic lifestyle led by the noble women of Moscow begins to strangle her. For the noble, virtuous women of Moscow, their lives are spent within the seclusion of their households and tower rooms. The Girl in the Tower continues the story of Vasilisa and Morozko. Behind the main events, the scene in Moscow is one of political intrigue and the very real dangers of the Grand Prince’s court at Moscow. When Vasilisa becomes embroiled in a danger far more explosive than hiding her true identity from the Grand Prince, Vasilisa must risk her own life to save her family. Against the fading powers of the pagan magic, Vasilisa discovers a dark, sorcerous magic that holds a generational family truth.
The Girl in the Tower was just as enchanting as The Bear and the Nightingale, drawing on the wonderful Russian folktales and imbued with the same fable-like qualities. Here you can read my review of The Bear and the Nightingale