The Girl in the Tower
(Winternight Trilogy #2)
by Katherine Arden
The Girl in the Tower is rich with delicious language, dripping with complicated, angsty characters, and flavored with mythos and history of Eastern Europe. In short, its even better than the first book.
Better, because Vasya and her awesome horse Solovey, are active right from the start. The first book had her unwitting reaction to the unfairness and cruelty of her world, but Vasya is passive no longer. She rides as a boy around the winter forest trying to rescue stolen peasant girls, she challenges Morozko the ice spirit, and she becomes companion to the Prince of Moscow.
I love how all the characters, except for the biggest villain, have light and darkness. Morozko is death himself, and yet Arden makes of him a romantic hero. Prince Dmitri should be a fat, pompous fool, but he is redeemed and brought low by his love and loyalty for Vasya’s brother, and Olga, Vasya’s sister, should be a preening, simpering princess in a tower. But she is a bastion of strength and warmth whom grief can turn in to a bitter mother.
The seeds are here for yet another book, related to Vasya’s grandmother, and while it may seem Morozko and Vasya are separated, I am hoping their immortal/mortal dance will continue further in the third book.