Blurb: One girl can make a difference… Moscow is in flames, leaving its people searching for answers – and someone to blame. Vasya, a girl with extraordinary gifts, must flee for her life, pursued by those who blame their misfortune on her magic. Then a vengeful demon returns, stronger than ever. Determined to engulf the world in chaos, he finds allies among men and spirits. Mankind and magical creatures alike find their fates resting on Vasya’s shoulders. But she may not be able to save them all.
Title: The Winter of the Witch
Author: Katherine Arden
Publisher: Del Rey, an imprint of Ebury, part of the Penguin Random House Group
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Fantasy
Life is never easy for Vasya – even less so now as she is hunted as a witch, condemned for setting Moscow ablaze. But people don’t see what she sees, don’t know what she knows about the world beyond and the old powers that are angry at being forgotten in place of a new god. Can Vasya convince both man and myth to work together and unite two worlds before they both fall to ruin?
I put off reading this book for about a year as I didn’t want this series to end and now I’m so mad that I let myself do it! I honestly can’t sing my praises of this book enough so this review is going to be me trying not to ramble 😂 My love for Vasya and her world only grew, which isn’t always the case when you reach the end of a series, and I hated having to put this book down to get some sleep! I don’t know whether I’m becoming more open to giving five star reviews lately or if I’m just reading lots of fantastic books but there was no other rating that I could give to this story. I laughed, I cried, I grieved and I celebrated right alongside Vasya on her journey through Midnight and beyond and if that’s not the mark of a five star read, I don’t know what is.
Vasya remains a stand out character, traipsing around Rus and saving everyone she can while dealing with broken ribs and a big dose of grief. To add to that, one of my favourite things about this book is that Arden doesn’t shy away from the nitty gritty – broken ribs, witch burnings, plague and boat loads of mud all crop up to really paint a picture of Vasya’s continued hardships. The characters are all well fleshed out and three dimensional, with their own motives and problems, making mistakes and showing different facets to their personalities. While Vasya will always be my favourite, I must note that Father Konstanin is a particularly good example of this. A character who battles his own desires, confusion about his faith, the whispers of devils and his need to do the right thing. I really hated him for a lot of the book but (and no spoilers here!) he does take a step to redeeming himself towards the end of the book. Another real stand out part of the story is the plot. The book doesn’t end where you’d expect it to and the last handful of chapters, instead of dragging, are an amazing addition. Not only to we get to go to war, we see the chyerti in full force and witness Vasya’s might in full force. I also hasten to point out, especially for readers who are skeptical of fantasy worlds, that I was never confused about the unseen world in this series. Not only is it described well and totally immersive, Arden also always includes a glossary of terms at the back of each book to answer any questions. In short, this is a world that I’ll be returning to as often as I can and also one I’d love to know more about!
To keep things fair, my only gripe with this book is that it’s the last we get to see of Vasya and this world. I need more! On a serious note, there’s absolutely nothing that I would change about this book.
Overall, I can’t recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy worlds, fairytales and folklore. Never before has a book series drawn me into a world so unlike me own so well that I don’t want to leave ❤️
Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!
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