A ‘perfectly imperfect heroine’, a frost demon & 5 reasons to read The Girl in the Tower
8th January, 2017
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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
Language : English
Pages : 384
Rating : 4/5
Have you read this series by Katherine Arden yet?