A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.
Synopsis from Goodreads
I have been anxiously waiting for The Winter of the Witch to come out since its predecessor, The Girl in the Tower, ended. Vasya was left in a very tenuous situation, Moscow was on fire, and we really did not know what was going to happen next! This novel picks up immediately after The Girl in the Tower ended, and we are quickly thrust into Vasya’s next adventure as she struggles to survive against the many forces - men and demon - that are trying to kill her.
Brilliant Character Development
Vasya is caught in incredibly difficult position as a woman in a world controlled by men, as a witch in a world dominated by Christianity, and as a sister who is trying to keep her family safe while also being true to herself. Her journey spans three books and brings us to the end as she becomes a ruler of her own. I’ve loved her story since the beginning, and have felt that there was real growth in her character in every book. She went from a simple farm girl, to a young woman on the cusp of power, to an incredibly strong and powerful woman who is protector of both men and demons. Arden did a fantastic job of helping Vasya grow up and claim her power.
Paganism and Christianity
At it’s core, the series is about the ongoing struggle between paganism and Christianity that happened across Europe. Russia was one of the many, many countries that had to deal with removing pagan beliefs when Christianity rose up to be the dominant religion. I’ve been incredibly intrigued with how Arden portrayed this struggle and how Vasya has to find that middle ground between the “demons” and the religious orders. Although it’s only one of the many storylines in the series, I was very interested to see how the Church and Royal leaders at first repelled any type of witchcraft that they found, but came to understand that all creatures are valued and should be treated as such.
Tying Up Loose Ends
We are finally given an end to Vasya and Morozko’s story, as well as getting a chance to meet new characters and coming to better understand the Bear. From the very first book, it was clear that Vasya would have to be the middle ground between these two brothers, and as that series continued we saw how she was developing an emotional connection to the Winter King. Their feelings come to fruition, but we also see how Vasya has always been meant to be the bridge between the world of men and chyerti. I wasn’t sure where her story would go, but Arden wrapped things up quite nicely.
Overall, this is a very interesting trilogy and takes place in a time and part of the world that I don’t have much knowledge of. I love how Arden brought us into Russian mythology, how she investigated a different type of storytelling, and how she introduced us to new Russian terms. I thought it was very well written and I’m very, very pleased with how this novel ended the series. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the previous novels, is interested in a historical fantasy type book, or is just interested in getting a better understanding of how different cultures tell their stories.
FINAL RATING: 4/5
Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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