Happy Lunar New Year everyone! Hope you had a great festive season with family and plenty of feasting! I’ve been very happily eating lots of steamboat and catching up with extended members of the family (and spending some time reading and drinking tea, of course)
I loved The Bear and the Nightingale and I thought that The Girl in the Tower was a great sequel, so I was obviously very excited for The Winter of Witch. When I saw The Orangutan Librarian’s review of it, it made me even more excited and I checked the library (again) and found that it was available for borrowing!
The Winter of the Witch takes place directly after The Girl in the Tower, which I, unfortunately, did not remember much of. While I enjoyed the sequel, it didn’t leave the same impression as The Bear and the Nightingale. Anyway, the city of Moscow has been burnt and the people are looking for someone to blame. Father Konstantin is now back in league with The Bear and he’s turned the city against Vasya. Desperate, she travels into lands unknown to save herself, her family, and her people.
Obviously, this book was amazing and it’s possibly my favourite book in the whole series. Vasya is no longer the little girl in the first book – everything she’s gone through has shaped her, and while she’s not an all-knowing wise woman (yet), she’s a lot more mature than she was. And I loved that she advocates for herself, which I think was strongest in the line “I am allowed to want things, winter-king“. She’s given herself permission to do what she thinks is best, not what others think is best (although sometimes the two overlap) and it is fantastic to see her do her thing. Vasya is such a strong protagonist and it’s not just because she’s got a lot of power – it’s her character that makes her strong.
Speaking of the Winter King, I was wrong when I said that her relationship with Morozko was a doomed romance in my review of The Girl in the Tower. The Winter of the Witch managed to somehow revive that relationship and make it seem believable. And better yet, while the relationship was important to the story, it wasn’t the only thing that happened and by no means the most significant event for Vasya in the book (I would argue that there is one more event that is just as significant but sorry, don’t want to give spoilers).
I also really loved her relationship with her family in this book. Her sister, Olga, didn’t leave much of an impression of me in the first two books, but I really admire how she stood up for her Vasya in her own way. And of course, Sasha is the older brother that I want.
Father Konstantin and the Bear are also developed much further than they were in the previous two books. Perhaps there was more development for the Bear, but they were both great antagonists for the book. There were also a few more chyerti characters that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and I thought that the world of the chyerti was most vividly brought to life in this book.
Like I mentioned earlier in the review, this is probably my favourite book of the three. The Bear and the Nightingale was an amazing start and I’m still raving about it now (and recommending it to anyone who asks for fantasy recommendations). I thought that The Girl in the Tower was even better, but I find that it doesn’t stick in my head as well as The Bear and the Nightingale; still, it was a fantastic sequel and one that did not disappoint. The Winter of the Witch, however, took everything to a whole new level and brought new depths to this world and new strengths to Vasya.
I cannot express how happy I am with this book. It’s amazing to find a trilogy that starts well, continues well, and ends well, and I can see myself recommending this book to people for many years to come.