Author: Katherine Arden
The Winternight Trilogy, Book #1 (323 pages)
Goodreads Synopsis: At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil. After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.”
Review: This is the second time I’ve read Katherine Arden’s story The Bear & The Nightingale. I wanted to re-read the the first two stories before the last in the trilogy was released, re-reading this story didn’t disappoint. The Bear and The Nightingale opened a whole new world to me, one I didn’t even know existed. Based on a Russian Fairytale I was a little hesitant at first. I’ve actually never read anything set in Russia (except for one WWII story) so I had no idea if I would love or hate it. But in the end, I loved this story and have since recommended it to many people.
To start with, Vasya is a character that I loved from the moment I started reading it, she is strong willed and independent in a world that does not look kindly on those attributes in young girls. While The Winter King Morozko is a character who opens Vasya’s world to wonders she only thought were stories, he is an amazing character, I honestly cannot get enough of him. While Vasya grows, so does Morozko and Vasya begins to understand her new place in the world. She believes that having faith in both the old and new ways can bring peace to the world, and though others find that she must be a witch to believe in such matters, Vasya knows she must use her strength to help the ones she loves and to never lose who she is and who she wants to be. She truly is a heroine worth knowing.
“All my life,” she said, “I have been told ‘go’ and ‘come.’ I am told how I will live, and I am told how I must die. I must be a man’s servant and a mare for his pleasure, or I must hide myself behind walls and surrender my flesh to a cold, silent god. I would walk into the jaws of hell itself, if it were a path of my own choosing. I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed me.”
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars