The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy, #3)by Published 08 Jan 2019
|The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy, #3).pdf|
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 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.
Advance praise for The Winter of the Witch
“Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy isn’t just good—it’s hug-to-your-chest, straight-to-the-favorites-shelf, reread-immediately good, and each book just gets better. The Winter of the Witch plunges us back to fourteenth-century Moscow, where old gods and new vie for the soul of Russia and fate rests on a witch girl’s slender shoulders. Prepare to have your heart ripped out, loaned back to you full of snow and magic, and ripped out some more.”—Laini Taylor
The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy, #3) Reviews
You know that feeling when you find a book that speaks to some deep part of your soul and you just want to shout:
‘THIS is why I read!’?
This folkloric trilogy has become that for me, reminding me of all the reasons why I love literature.
It’s not a secret that I loved the first two books in this deep-winter tale with the burning fire of a thousand suns. So you can imagine how much I needed this book in my hands, and also how stressful a thing it is to embark into the last instalment of a beloved series. The final book can make or break your opinion of the story as a whole. Am I jaded? Okay, maybe a little. I’ve been let down countless times by second and third book syndrome.
But I am thrilled to say that not only was it a most satisfying conclusion, but it exceeded my every hope. It was utter perfection from the first page until the last and I may go so far as to say it could be the strongest book of the three.
Just as with The Girl in the Tower, we pick up where the previous story ended and right out of the gate we are put through some very harrowing scenes. Goodness, they put me through a lot of anxiety. The stakes are so much higher this time around and from those first moments onward I could not look away - the story barrels onward at a relentless pace. And now we finally see the full scope that Arden intended. The culmination of everything she was building towards in the perfectly paced slow burn of The Bear and the Nightingale, and the riotous action of The Girl in the Tower. It feels seamless how it has all come together and I’m just so giddy with delight.
Our girl, Vasya, is no longer a just a plucky, naive child. From the ashes of the Moscow fire she has risen into a woman with incredible new strength in more ways than one. But of course she remains wonderfully flawed - her character has even more dimension than ever. Arden has shown how much she really knows her characters because they have truly carried this story and made it heart-wrenching in all the best ways. She can make you feel for even the most minor supporting characters with just a few lines.
I think Studio Ghibli fans will appreciate the whimsical details in this one. Think magical midnight roads, loveable forest spirits (hello new favourite sidekick character), man-beasts - but written for grownups. And yet this tale will bring out the childlike wonder in even the most grown up of grownups. It’s delightfully subversive too- it upends the age old tropes of princes winning maidens, of monsters being slain. So many mischievous plot twists I did NOT expect.
I was also not prepared at all for these f e e l i n g s. I am still filled to the brim with them. This book broke me, then slowly pieced me back together until I whooped with triumphant glee at the very end. And there is a certain PART that made me all asdkjfkslsjfks. You’ll know it when you get there. Just you wait.
As much as I’m dying to discuss the finer details, I really can’t spoil the fun. I know - I KNOW - we’re all waiting to hear if a certain Winter King makes a reappearance. All I can say is the scent of cold water and pine will forever make me swoon.
I gave this book a big, loving, emotionally exhausted hug when it was over. The ending was perfect and that is a rare thing so it probably shouldn’t be tampered with. BUT. I love these characters so damn much, my heart is crying for more more more of their adventures.
And that’s it. I can now wholeheartedly say: this, this is my favourite series of all time. If I could persuade you to read one thing, let this be it. You may just love it as much as I do.
ARC given to me by my amazingly kind friend, who I don't deserve, but who has made my entire year - Lilly at Lair of Books!
1.) The Bear and the Nightingale ★★★★★
2.) The Girl in the Tower ★★★★★
“I have plucked snowdrops at Midwinter, died at my own choosing, and wept for a nightingale. Now I am beyond prophecy.”
This is a hard review for me to write, because I think my heart doesn’t want to admit that this series is finally over. But it is, and this concluding book was everything I wanted. I cried, I felt gutted, I got my heart broken, but somehow Katherine Arden healed the pieces back together.
Where do I even begin to tell you what this story is about without spoiling anything with a review about the final book. This is a book about the bonds of family, blood and found, and doing whatever it takes to protect the ones you love. This is a book about religion and the beautiful and terrible things people are willing to do in the name of it. This is a book about all the different pieces that make a person, and how it is okay to love them all even if others won’t. But this is ultimately a book about a girl becoming the hero of her own story every single time, no matter who or what tries to block her path.
“There are no monsters in the world, and no saints. Only infinite shades woven into the same tapestry, light and dark.”
But I suppose The Bear and the Nightingale is a Russian inspired fantasy that stars a family living on the edge of the unforgiving Russian wilderness. And our main character grew up on fairy tales, but always hungered for more. And she soon realizes that maybe there was some truth in those tales, and she encounters a frost-demon named Morozko who makes magic a reality before her very eyes.
This story picks up right after the events of The Girl in the Tower in Moscow, and Konstantin Nikonvich’s vengeance knows no bounds. And a bear demon named Medved is happy to aid with the chaos in any way they possibly can. We also get to see Marya, Olga, Sasha, and Dmitrii on very different journeys through this pain and heartbreak. But we also get to see Vasya learn new things about herself and her ancestors, while even venturing into a new land unlike any other. And I truly think this concluding novel was damn close to perfection.
“You denied both the winter-king and his brother, didn’t you? You made yourself a third power in their war.”
Following Vasya, seeing her go to battle for Russia, go to battle for her family, go to battle for herself, has been a journey like none other that I’ve ever experienced while reading. Katherine Arden pulls from a lot of historical events and themes, but I’m convinced that this equal parts harrowing and heartening fairytale that she crafted is the real timeline that happened. I’ll be completely honest, this is a hard review to write, and not because it’s the last book in a series, but because I am in awe of what a damn masterpiece this entire story is. It doesn't even feel real that I have this story in my hands, that I get to read it, I get to love it, I get to experience this beautiful tale that feels so whimsical but so real. The actual blessings.
“Magic is forgetting the world was ever other than as you willed it.”
Overall, this is just one of my favorite trilogies of all time, and I think it always will be. This story just truly has every element that I’m in love with in literature; lyrical writing, winter setting, fae folks of all varieties, strong sibling bonds, heart wrenching romance, and girls becoming the hero of their story. Katherine Arden and this trilogy is a gift from a higher power and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Content and trigger warnings for talk of death during childbirth, graphic animal death, graphic torture, graphic violence, sexual assault (unwanted touching), threat of rape, death, murder, blood depictions, slavery, captivity, and war themes.
Buddy read with Sissi, Lily, Hanaa, & Lilly! ❤
it has been said that those who do not believe in magic will never find it, and this book is physical proof that magic does exist.
every page, every word, every letter made its way into my heart, which began to beat in a steady and strong rhythm of “i believe, i believe, i believe.”
this story, this trilogy, has woven itself into the very fabric of soul and will forever be a part of me. a truly captivating tale that has made me fall in love with reading all over again.
and as i have come to the conclusion of this wonderful story, i have realised what a joy and privilege it is to have such magic in my life.
↠ 5 stars
Katherine Arden completes the wonder that is the stellar Winternight trilogy, and leaves me in pieces, distraught with a deep sense of loss that this is the end. This is epic storytelling as it begins with the ashes of Moskva and a traumatised people susceptible to the charismatic priest Konstantin, a man overcome by a maelstrom of feelings, with fear of Vasya dominating. Branded a witch and pariah, Vasya is to be tested beyond human endurance, acquiring a fire within, wracked with grief and loss. Immersed in magic within the vast enchanted lands of Midnight, she travels exhausted and broken, becoming aware of her family history and legacy, making her the heir to her unforgiving great grandmother, but Vasya has much to learn. The winter king, the death god Morozko, has sacrificed himself for Vasya, but at a terrible price as the spirit of chaos, the bear, is unleashed on a Moscow already on its knees, as the diminished power of the chyerti leaves its open to the further incoming bloodlust, death and destruction.
The Grand Prince of Moskva, Dmitrii, Vasya's cousin is beseiged by dangers from all sides, the rising power of Konstantin, now discarding all remnants of his Christian faith for a devil's bargain with the bear in return for power. The Tatars with vast forces of fighting men, under the leadership of Mamai, seek silver from Dmitrii, with plans to decimate and conquer Rus through war, if the silver is unforthcoming. Terrified for her family and Rus, Vasya seeks Morozko, unprepared for what she finds. In this dark fairytale, Vasya comes of age, becomes a woman, becoming aware of her abilities, exercising her magic and rallying to become the third force of power as many chyerti, and Pozhar, the firebird, form an alliance with her. Magic, however, is a gift and a curse, rich in its temptations, but exposing her to an all consuming madness that threatens all that ties her to her family, Rus, humanity, and love. To fight the forces that threaten Rus and her family, Vasya ventures into unthinkable terrritory, making common cause with the spirit of chaos, revealing they share more more than she has forseen. Only unity can offer the miniscule hope of winning the David and Goliath battles that loom, offering a future for co-existence between Christian, Pagan and the Grand Prince, and the foundation for an independent Rus.
War rallies disparate parties but inevitably horror, loss and grief are its repercussions, and nothing Vasya can do can prevent the gravest of loss as her grief overflows. The waters of death and the waters of life offer some much needed amelioration as a close spirit joyfully returns. Katherine Arden has taken the framework of actual Russian history, and weaves a spellbinding tale of Vasya, a young woman unwilling to accept convention on the role of women, challenging the path of either marriage or the convent, the only options available. Arden's storytelling is atmospheric, vital, vibrant and unforgettable. It is outstanding, feminist, conjoining the mortal with the immortal, and located in the rich mythology and legends of Russian folklore. I don't know what Arden will do next, but I guarantee whatever it is, I will be reading it without fail. What can I say?? Just read this. Many thanks to Random House Ebury for an ARC.
‘’Yesterday she saved your life, slew a wicked magician, set fire to Moscow and then saved it all in a single night. Do you think she will consent to disappear, for the price of a dowry- for any price? Do you know my sister?’’
It is seldom that the third book of a trilogy ends up being the finest. However, this is exactly what happened with The Winter of the Witch. The final installment of a saga created with absolute beauty and dark grace by Katherine Arden is one to remember and cherish, in a trilogy that defied all genres and labels, making its way to be a classic. I firmly believe that The Winternight Trilogy will keep company to generations of readers who will fall in love with the wealth of the Russian culture, the myths, the legends, the traditions.
‘’But she saw the devils, despite the dark. There were silhouetted atop roofs and walls: domoviye and dvorovije and banniki, the faint house-spirits of Moscow. They were there, but what could they do but watch? Chyerti are formed by the currants of human life; they ride them, but they do not interfere.’’
Three things are the ones that make the trilogy perfect: a supreme heroine, the exquisite descriptions of the Russian landscape and the theme of the never-ending battle between the old world and the new, the pagan beliefs and the Christian religion. All these elements are done to perfection in the 3rd book. As Vasya fights for survival, justice and balance, she undertakes a long journey to a harsh, mystical haunting realm. Arden’s writing is extraordinarily beautiful as we are wondering in the land of Midnight or the scorching Moscow summer. The scenery changes and changes and along with it Vasya is transformed. The glorious city, the realms of magic, everything is a part of a greater world and everything is a link in a chain that must not break because a dangerous foe is approaching, a horde that doesn’t care for the old and the new, desiring to establish its own dynasty.
Arden gives us princesses and princes, knights and priests. Wise women, artists, animals touched by magic. Demons and spirits of nature. The entire Russian folklore lives in the pages of the book and it never looked more beautiful, more mystical, more threatening. Marya Morevna, the Baba Yaga, the Firebird and the chyerti, the domovoi and the upyr in a particularly powerful, shocking chapter. Polunochnitsa and her dark domain, the Midday demon, the horses of legends, the women graced (or cursed) with the Sight. These are the pawns of the fight between the living and what they can’t see, the world they can’t believe in. The division that feeds their need to destroy what they fear because they are unable to understand.
‘’I am a witch’’, said Vasya. Blood was running down her hand now, spoiling her grip. ‘’I have plucked snowdrops at Midwinter, died at my own choosing, and wept for a nightingale. Now I am beyond prophecy.’’ She caught his knife on the crosspiece of hers, hilt to hilt. ‘’I have crossed three times nine realms to find you, my lord. And I find you at play, forgetful.’’
I cannot begin to tell you how much I adore the relationship between Vasya and Morozov and here their dynamic is more electrifying than ever. Is it strange and dark and possibly twisted? Well, it may be and this is exactly what makes me love them so much. They are my favourite literary couple, after Heathcliff and Catherine, and yes, I know I am weird. Vasya continues to remain one of my favourite female protagonists, not only because of her bravery and determination but mostly because Arden chose to make her as real as she could given the premise of the story. She doesn’t refrain from fear and insecurity and despair or even one or two questionable decisions and this is how you create a believable, relatable main character in a fantasy setting. Strange as it may sound, though, the character I was always anxious to meet in a chapter was Konstantin. He is desperate and lost and all sorts of confused and you cannot help but be hypnotized by his presence. His chemistry with Vasya is explosive.
So, I am sad to leave the Winternight universe. A trilogy created through haunting sceneries, an exceptional cast of characters, impeccable dialogue and endless respect to the immortal heritage of the Russian tradition, Katherine Arden, thank you for three marvelous journeys.
‘’Men fear what they do not understand’’, murmured the Bear. ‘’They hurt you. They beat you, spat on you, put you in the fire. Men will suck all the wilderness out of the world, until there is no place for a witch0girl to hide. They will burn you and your kind.’’
Many thanks to Penguin Random House UK and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...