December 10, 2018 by TinyNavajo
The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
*Published December 5, 2017*
Yep, I FINALLY got around to reading this book and I’m so glad! I loved the first book and I had been meaning to read this second once it came out…but as you can see, it was published last year…I was slow at getting around to this book. It was WORTH IT!!
The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues 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 Moscovite 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 love Vasya. She is a girl I think I would love to be friends with and I love how much she stands up for herself. Yes, she is a bit of an idiot at times, but that’s really only because she has not lived outside of her little village/hamlet before and thus doesn’t know a lot about the world. And it was interesting to see how her interactions with her sister Olga and her brother Sasha and how much they have changed since they both left to life in Moscow. Her memories were different from her interactions in the present.
Overall, I loved that we got to see how one’s choices affect not only you but those around you. What seems to be one small little lie turns into something that could gravely endanger your family, though it didn’t seem like it at the time. And for Vasya, a girl who doesn’t fit in anywhere really, her little lie at the time may have saved her, but it also doomed her should anyone find out.
I also love how well Katherine Arden involves the lore and creatures of Russian fairy tales. You not only get the magic and supernatural stuff, but you get some of the political issues of medieval Russia. I love retellings and in my opinion, this series is an excellent way to introduce a new form of fairy tales that we don’t get to see as much. I loved this book and I seeing Vasya grow and change and learn more about the world around her.
Have you guys read any Russian fairy tale retellings? What did you think of them? Comment below and let me know!