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A ‘perfectly imperfect heroine’, a frost demon & 5 reasons to read The Girl in the Tower

8th January, 2017

Book Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

The Girl in the Tower is the sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale by Arden. To me, The Bear and the Nightingale, was a fairytale that leaves you breathless.’ Moreover it made it to my list of favourite books of 2017. To top that, Aitch’s cover design was one of my favourites among the books released in early 2016 and hence it made it to my list of 14 Delicious covers of 2017.‘ So yes, my expectations for the sequel were sky high. I was almost scared to read the book because I feared I would be disappointed. But so happy that the sequel was just as good, but in a different way.

More Vasya

Vasya is now a young lady who craves to be wild and free like the child she was.She does not want to constrict herself within the norms of womanhood by getting married or entering a convent. She has dreams of travelling and exploring. This fire to break free is even brighter in the sequel. When the villagers call her a witch, she finds it impossible to stay there. She listens to her heart and runs away from home with her horse, Solovey to have adventures, meet the frost-demon again and to save Moscow.

I loved that Arden did not create Vasya to be an extraordinary beauty (cringing at the many books who sculpt a perfect heroine; Vasya is often described as frog faced). She is ordinary as well as ambitious. She is ferocious, but breaks down when she is forced to. I loved that the character felt so real with imperfections. She wants to live her life but she also prioritizes her family. Vasya is your perfect ‘imperfect heroine’.

Book Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Morozko who will steal your heart

The frost demon has a larger role to play in this sequel. And he steals your heart, no doubt. Each time a scene with a frost demon ended, I kept longing for another one soon. The chemistry between Vasya and Morozko felt like a rush of electric current. Morozko will steal your heart, break it and make you fall in love with him.

More minor characters + Action sequences

While the first book focused mainly on Vasya, the second books gives an important role to her brother, Sasha and sister, Olga as well as many other minor characters. Solovey, Vasya’s horse, has a bigger role too. I found Solovey’s entry in The Bear and the Nightingale to be a rushed one towards the ending chapters; so this was much needed. In this book, Vasya tries to save Moscow, and hence there are many action sequences such as escaping from the evil men, fighting with bandits, horse races and so on. Each scene is well written that you can see it in your head like a movie.

Book Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Fairytale elements

It was the abundance of Slavic myths that attracted me towards The Bear and the Nightingale. Compared to the first book in the series, the presence of such elements is considerably weaker. I enjoyed the few  allusions to mythical elements. There are more fantastical scenes that are a product of the author’s imagination than spin-offs of myths. But no complaints. The overall story is wonderful, engaging and I was fully engrossed in the way one chapter led to another.

Much needed answers

One of my qualms with The Bear and the Nightingale was the fact that there were so many unanswered questions. What is the jewel that Vasya wears? Who is the famous witch of a grandmother? What happened to Sasha? I was expecting explanations in the sequel and I am happy with the back story.

Stronger themes

Since Vasya is a young lady now, we see a clear picture of the place of women in olden times which is equated to domestic happiness or spiritual happiness only; the strong presence of men in official decision making of the kingdom; relationships and hierarchy in old Russian political structure among many others. We explore the relationships between siblings compared to exploring love within the whole family in the first book.

Third Book please

All I could think when I finished reading the book was that I need the third one as soon as possible. I am anxious to see what happens next. I am worried about some of the characters. I am stressed if Arden will do justice to my favourite characters (I am sure she will).

Final Verdict :

Do I have to choose between the two books? They are very different from one another. While, The Bear and the Nightingale mesmerizes you with the mythical elements in the stories and lyrical prose, The Girl in the Tower captures your heart with the story telling and action scenes. You will fall in love with Vasya more in this one. But be prepared for the surprise because it is the frost demon who will steal your heart.

Title : The Girl in the Tower
Author : Katherine Arden
Publisher : Ebury
Publication: 2017
Language : English
Pages : 384
Rating : 4/5

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The Girl in The Tower (The Bear and the Nightingale #2)


This Post Has 41 Comments
    1. I have a list for the first half of 2017 favourites. I will be putting up a second half favourites too. Working on that post a little by little everyday (The perils of not planning way ahead). So it should be up this month whenever it is ready.

      1. Oh great, I’ll keep an eye out for it. Your photos are just amazing, I know I’ve said it before, but you’re a woman of multiple talents with an eye for the exquisite, creating images that make others feel good, keep up the good work Resh. 🙂

  1. “What happened to Sasha?” That’s my biggest question. I look forward to reading this now. I was enthused about Bear and the Nightingale after reading it, but am still interested in the story to continue with the series.

  2. I finished reading The Bear and the Nightingale yesterday and loved Katherine Arden’s beautiful writing, the whole setting of the story, the fairytale aspects and, more than anything else, Vasya as the protagonist! I’m so happy to hear that the 2nd book focuses even more on her and her development and I can’t wait to read it lovely review! ✨

  3. Resh your posts are always super crisp and clear. May I know what camera you use?? I am not a DLSR person (I use my phone camera for all Italy pics) but I am planning to take the basic DSLR that my friend has for my upcoming travels. Still unsure 😛

  4. I’m so so glad to hear this was just as good! I adored Bear and the Nightingale and it was on my top ten too! Vasya is a simply wonderful character and I love the fairytale aspect to this story. I’m really glad it provided some much needed answers as well. Wonderful review!

      1. Thanks. I was actually able to read it through NetGalley, and did not have the love for it that you do, but I plan on re-reading both books before the 3rd comes out in hopes of renewing my love for the story. I am really glad that you loved it. I am hoping my feelings were because I read it after a slump.

  5. It looks like this didn’t fall into the dreaded second book syndrome category. I love how pleasantly you write about these. Shows how brilliant they’ve been. And the fact that she isn’t a perfect heroine? I need that sorta heroine to read about. Great review Resh. As always.

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