You feel a slight shiver as the first signs of winter grace your skin. The fur coat offers no warmth, only sadness. All around is a cold, thick darkness that threatens to suffocate you. Then suddenly you hear the comforting sound of hooves and see the flicks of a fiery tail light up your surroundings. It is only then that you see them: The Chyerti. They have been waiting for you.
Today I am on the blog tour for The Winter Of the Witch ( Published 3rd October 2019 ) By Katherine Arden. A big thank you to the publishers, Ebury for my copy to review. And also to the amazing Anne for the invite, thank you. Let’s dive into another realm shall we dear readers, come, follow!
About The Author
Born in Austin, Texas, Katherine Arden spent her junior year of high school in Rennes, France.
Following her acceptance to Middlebury College in Vermont, she deferred enrolment for a year in order to live and study in Moscow. At Middlebury, she specialized in French and Russian literature.
After receiving her BA, she moved to Maui, Hawaii, working every kind of odd job imaginable, from grant writing and making crêpes to serving as a personal tour guide. After a year on the island, she moved to Briançon, France, and spent nine months teaching. She then returned to Maui, stayed for nearly a year, then left again to wander. Currently she lives in Vermont, but really, you never know.
She is the author of The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower. These novels make up the first two parts of The Winternight Trilogy.
The Winter Of The Witch
A thrilling conclusion to the Winternight Trilogy – a magical series perfect for fans of The Night Circus
One girl can make a difference…
Moscow is in flames, leaving its people searching for answers – and someone to blame. Vasilisa, 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.
I am in love dear readers, completely and utterly in love with this book. I couldn’t get enough, refused to put it down until the very end. I was seduced by the enchantment and fantasy of this world as it willed me to take a jump up onto a fiery mare and ride into the unknown.
Arden wastes no time in setting the narrative as she bundles the reader into the aftermath of a bloody battle. Moscow is in flames and there is a new fear in the hearts of men; whispers that a witch walks among their ranks. The reader has no time to recover from past events from the previous book, The Girl In The Tower before they are challenged by an angry mob. There’s little time to think as the plot descends on Vasya and beats her into submission. You can’t help but read on as you HAVE to know what is to become of her. It’s a compelling way to open the story, giving the reader a taste of what is yet to come.
Vasya is a character to be reckoned with. From within the first few pages her strength and courage are dragged to the stake to be burned into black ash. She is a survivor and willingly walks into midnight to save a city that wished her dead. Arden throws chaos and destruction in Vasya’s path which only makes her stronger. It is fantastic character development as she is put to the test of where her loyalty lies and is constantly battling the light and dark within herself. She is often warned that the use of her magic can turn her mad and is tested over and over again with how much she can take before she breaks and loses herself to the night. I admire Vasya, as after everything she has been made to suffer, she still holds out hope, thinks of others and always looks towards a better future. There were so many moments that brought me to tears or made me full of rage on her behalf that made me want to scream. She has a lot of depth to her and I not-so-secretly hold out hope that this is not the last we will see of her. She is a complex character which only makes it more intriguing to read.
“The wind blew sharp off the lake, and Vasya could not shake the sense of being watched, of being measured by the eyes she could not see. She felt like a girl hurled unwary into a tale she didn’t understand, with folk all around waiting for her to take up a part she didn’t know.”
I adore the mixture of characters that are littered throughout this book. Arden bestows her characters with emotions of torment and uncertainty. Sasha is torn between family and serving his king. The Grand Prince Dmitrii doesn’t know who to listen to – his trusted advisers or a priest claiming to banish the walking dead. Then there’s the ongoing battle between The Winter King and his brother, The Bear. Not to mention Vasya’s bloodline and everything that comes with it. There is so much going on and it works beautifully. It doesn’t give you a headache or feel too over-crowded. Adren has written it in a way that feels natural and delicious to digest. It immerses you and you start to yearn to learn more. It’s exquisite writing and not only fleshes-out the characters, but brings a new set of dynamics to the narrative, keeping the reader constantly on the precipice.
“The vodianoy popped out of the water scare an arm’s length away. His grinning mouth was filled with needle-sharp teeth, his skin thick with slime and river muck. Water ran like diamonds down his warty skin and foamed and boiled around him. He opened his spin-toothed mouth and roared at her.”
The use of imagery is vast throughout the narrative. It captures a world far from our own. The folktales of Russia are woven delicately into this fine fabric. It’s a story that has been hand-crafted to capture your breath, bottle it away and wait for the right moment to set it free again. As I wandered through the woods with Vasya I happened upon swamp demons, mushroom spirts and the much feared Baba Yaga. This is a dark, gritty, magical world that shows you its secrets and fears, bringing you to the brink of death to see the blurred vision of a white horse before hastily waking you with a fresh new midnight. It really is a breathtaking experience dear reader, SO GOOD!
I have to admit that I read this book out of order from the trilogy (Bad I know but the blurb hooked me) as it was the first one I had happened upon. BUT Arden has written The Winter Of The Witch in such a way that it not only works as its final chapter but also serves the purpose of a stand alone story to new readers. Of course I would highly recommend reading them in order first (and this book definitely makes you want to) but there is enough backstory and explanation given to the reader to help understand past events. I of course have every intention to read the first two now I have experienced this realm. It would be a shame not to. I just have to!
I give The Winter Of The Witch By Katherine Arden a Five out of Five paw rating.
Just YES! Yes dear reader, this book is everything a story should host. The magical elements, diverse characters and constantly moving narrative made it a pleasure to read. Love, love, loved it! I just really really LOVE this book. My heart was brutally stabbed, stitched back together, burned with rage and then carefully laid to rest in snow with the chance of healing before experiencing the whole process all over again.
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!
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