The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3) by Katherine Arden
Although I knew I was already enthralled with Katherine Arden’s writing after reading Small Spaces and the first two books in this trilogy, The Winter of the Witch solidified that this is one of my favorite series of all time. I have loved each and every moment of this series and am so overjoyed with how it ended even as I am sobbing over the fact that it’s over.
This series is magical and enchanting, full of beautiful lyrical prose, riveting monsters, man-beasts, spirits, and factual Russian history. The first book includes whimsical folklore tales with a slow burn of conflict between Christian and pagan. The second book pulls you in by depicting the upheaval in medieval Russia of politics, invaders and a feudal system. Everything is heightened in this third and final book, higher stakes, more dangerous risks taken, on and on it continues until Arden culminates to one epic battle of all parties. This is where not only the individual book ends, but rather it seamlessly brings together all you learned and felt in the first two books as well. In an Author’s Note, Arden explains that she always knew where this story would end even though so many changes were made throughout her writing process. I can see why as it perfectly brings together the conflicts brought up in each novel; the Rus’ against the Tatars, Christian against pagan and a young woman fighting to fulfill her own desires while still satisfying her family.
The Winter of The Witch picks up where The Girl in the Tower ended, Vasya has saved Moscow but the city, and a specific Priest, is searching for someone to blame for the recent havoc wrought on its inhabitants. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. And thus this story opens with some distressing moments that invoked a slew of emotions within me.
Meanwhile, the Grand Prince is enraged and finds allies to seek vengeance, but it may lead him to war and ruin. And a terrifying demon returns, intent on reaking havoc. Once again we see how anger and fear can make people search for the wrong type of assistance, creating darkness and pain in the lives of others and ourselves. We also have to consider that not all monsters are evil and maybe they are not meant to be slain. What if we need them in our lives? What if they care and weep for us and we never knew?
Onto the characters. Vasya is such an amazing character and I love her strength and bravery but also her flaws. After all her experiences, she is now angry at the wicked actions of men and struggles to stop herself from seeking vengeance and cruelty over them all. We delve deeper into the brotherly bond of Dmitrii and Sasha, with some nail biting suspicion due to the lies told in the second book. And we meet some new characters, mortal and spirits, that bring new light and layers to the story. These spirits bring us to a new land of darkness that Arden so beautifully creates that I was enchanted all over again. I’ve been saying it in each of my reviews, but I cannot ever give enough praise to Arden and her creation of this magical tale.
I received an arc copy through NetGalley for an honest review.
Synopsis: Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—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.