Katherine Arden: The Girl in the Tower

Be sure to check out my review of The Bear and the Nightingale first!

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Muscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

I’m very late on this ARC review, so I apologize. I meant to have read this for mid-December, but my slumpy brain and the long library hold for Bear did not allow for that to happen.

I wasn’t an enormous fan of the first book. The lore was incredibly fascinating, but the rest of the book was slow and I had a hard time connecting to the characters. I wasn’t much looking forward to jumping right into the second book, but because I was running late already, I didn’t feel I had much choice but to start right away.

However, I think this book did pick up some of the slack. At least, it was definitely more exciting and action packed. I still didn’t necessarily like Vasya, but there was more to “do” in this storyline. Also, Sasha and Olga play a much bigger role, so their disappearances in Bear became relevant.

The Girl in the Tower continues to follow the fairy tale path, and as such, there are no shortage of villains. Be careful who you trust. There’s also no shortage of magic and lore in this book, just like the first, and it continues to be my favorite part.

I can’t decide, though, how I feel about Arden’s ability to wrap up her story in one book. This is a trilogy, but each book can stand on its own, almost. Even though the people wrap from one book to the next, there aren’t major cliffhangers at the end of either like there are in most series. I’m left with the sense that this really could be the end without continuation. I even had to look on Goodreads to see if this was actually a Duology. But, no, there will be a third. I’m halfway curious to read it, if only for that reason alone.

Del Rey and NetGalley provided this ARC for an unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.

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