Winter of the Witch

Winternight Trilogy, Book 3
by Katherine Arden

BRB, I’m crying because one of my favorite series of all time is over, and despite a perfect finish I know I’m going to miss Vasya so much that it hurts.

I half don’t want to write this review, because I don’t want to admit that this series is actually over. The final book was such a perfect conclusion, so beautiful, so painful in all the best ways, that I feel I want to hug the author and thank her for leading me through such a wild range of emotions. It feels like the perfect fairy tale, only better because this time, the girl wins.

Summary

Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answersโ€”and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

Musings

โ€œI have plucked snowdrops at Midwinter, died at my own choosing, and wept for a nightingale. Now I am beyond prophecy.โ€

Just like the books that came before it, this is a novel about religion and horrible things people are willing to do in the name of it. It is a story of old beliefs and new, of courage in standing for what is right. It is a book about family and doing whatever it takes to protect the ones you love. And it’s a story about being a woman in a world where your gender is a prison, taking action, taking control of her life, and saving even those who told her she wasn’t capable of anything. In the final book in this series, Vasya becomes the very thing men fear and despise: a witch. And she saves the world.

This story picks up right after the events of The Girl in the Tower in Moscow, the city has burned but was saved by Vasya’s quick thinking and Morosko’s waning power. But now Konstantin wants Vasya dead more than ever, and a certain bear named Medved is happy to aid with the chaos in any way they possibly can. But with Vasya standing up to both the bear and the king of winter, she’s made herself a third power in this war, and has more to fight for than ever before.

This book is a battle scene. A massive war, between the old beliefs and the new religion, between two brothers caught in an eternal fight for power, between the Russians and the Tartars, between Vasya and herself. The author pulls from a lot of historical events, making the story feel more real than a simple fairy tale. It’s so masterfully crafted that I could almost believe Arden was there herself. And yet, despite all this, it still captures the magic and whimsy of classic storytelling.

While I felt a little like there wasn’t any doubt for Vasya, ever – as hard as they sounded, her victories always seemed so certain – I think it added to the sense of tradition to the story. And I’m a little wary of how Vasya won Morozko back from his captivity, but hey: if this book had been any more perfect, it would have probably punched a hole in the universe.

Do yourself a favor and grab this magical trilogy, your life will be all the more beautiful for it.

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