As I’m sure you guys know by now, The Bear and the Nightingale was one of my favourite reads of 2017. I am so happy to kick off the blog tour for the second book in the Winternight trilogy, The Girl in the Tower, and bring you guys an interview with Katherine Arden herself!
Q: The Girl in the Tower picks up where The Bear and the Nightingale leaves off. Can you tell us a little about the second book in the trilogy?
A: The Girl in the Tower follows Vasilisa as she leaves home and comes into her own as a woman in the wider world. Her relationships evolve—particularly with Morozko and with her older siblings Sasha and Olga.
Q: In this book, Vasya leaves her home behind and ventures out into the world. Could you describe the challenges of opening up your character’s world and creating new hardships for her?
A: It was fun researching medieval Moscow, and thinking up more dramatic adventures for the adult Vasilisa. Just like with any book, it was a process of writing and rewriting until I got it right.
Q: One of the best aspects of the Winternight trilogy is the villains because they are so righteous and are simply acting within the constraints of their society. Where did you find inspiration for these characters?
A: Konstantin was inspired by St. John Rivers from Jane Eyre and Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. There is another villain in The Girl in the Tower who was directly inspired by a villain from Russian folklore.
Q: Both books have featured wonderful creatures from Russian folklore. Which creatures are your favourite?
A: Baba Yaga, Sivka-Burka, the Firebird and Morozko.
Q: Can you give us a sneak peek at what we can expect in the concluding book?
A: Dark drama! Not everyone lives.
Q: You must have done a great deal of research for these books. Do you have any books you would recommend for anyone looking to read further on Russian folklore and fairy tales?
A: A great starter book is Russian Folk Belief by Linda Ivanits.
Q: What are you currently reading?
A: Dark Money, by Jane Meyer.
Many thanks to Katherine for answering my questions! I’m so looking forward to The Winter of the Witch, the final book in the trilogy, although she now has me nervous about who lives and who doesn’t!
If you’d like to hear my thoughts on The Girl in the Tower, check out my review below.
The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
Publication date: 25 January 2018
Genre: Adult fantasy
Pages: 388 pages
Format: Paperback proof
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler free, but contains spoilers for The Bear and the Nightingale.
As a huge fan of The Bear and the Nightingale, I was a little nervous to read The Girl in the Tower because I just loved the first book so much. However, The Girl in the Tower lived up to its predecessor and expanded on the wonderful world Arden created.
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 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.*
The Girl in the Tower does an amazing job of broadening the scope of the trilogy and the characters, all while carrying on the familiar themes that I loved so much in the first book. It still explores the Russian folklore and culture, however it expands its reach beyond Vasya’s rural village in the frozen north. Vasya continues to encounter the spirits and creatures that populated The Bear and the Nightingale, and she sees the influence the spread of Christianity has on them. However, The Girl in the Tower investigates medieval Russian culture beyond just the folklore. We get a better look at the culture that Vasya is struggling against — one of the main themes is the treatment by her peers when she is disguised as a boy versus when she is dressed as a girl. It is a fascinating and infuriating part of the story, much like Vasya’s interactions with Father Konstantin in The Bear and the Nightingale.
The biggest change in this book is that a good portion of it takes place in and around Moscow rather than the rural north, therefore the book has a greater focus on the politics of the time rather than the culture in Vasya’s village. We meet powerful men and through them, the politics of the time is explored. The fragile political climate in Moscow is an integral part of the story, and one that I found absolutely fascinating.
One of great strengths of the Winternight trilogy so far is the wonderful cast of characters, heroes and villains alike. Vasya is such a compelling female lead and she only continues to grow in The Girl in the Tower — she is one of the best characters I’ve read in a long time. Her world has changed dramatically since the end of The Bear and the Nightingale, however she is not stifled by her grief. She remains true to herself and tries to find her own path in a society that rejects her. She is headstrong, stubborn to a fault, and wild, but you cannot help but understand her.
The Girl in the Tower also features some old favourites and new characters. I won’t say anything more, but the way each character is woven into the story and the motivations behind their actions are fascinating! One of the best aspects of the first book is that the villains, as much as we may hate them, are operating well within the rules of their society. In Vasya’s world, they are right and she is wrong. Arden continues this grey-area theme with many of the characters in the second book.
Overall, I thought The Girl in the Tower was a worthy sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale. Arden takes the wonderful world she created in the first book enhances it as Vasya goes leaves her home behind. With the book’s increased focus on politics and life in medieval Moscow, The Girl in the Tower has a more historical fiction flavour than The Bear and the Nightingale. The magic is still very much there, and Vasya’s adventures only continue to grow in their excitement.
You can pre-order The Girl in the Tower at the following sites (affiliate links):
Don’t forget to check out the remaining stops on the blog tour!
*Copy courtesy of Goodreads