The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

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The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Wilson
Reviewed by Ruth Wilson
Summary: This second instalment is even better than the first. We see established characters develop and mature and the world that was already dangerous enough for our headstrong heroine becomes increasingly dangerous as Vasya heads to Moscow and inadvertently becomes involved with the political world of men. In Moscow she has to deal with her family’s expectations of her as a woman as well as trying to extricate herself from the political tangle she has become involved in. The story is written with a lightness of touch that keeps a potentially dark subject feeling exciting and adventurous.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: January 2018
Publisher: Del Rey
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1785031069

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In the second book of the trilogy Katherine Arden builds on her original story to create something even better. This book is utterly wonderful and it is at the same time complex and gentle. The first book set up the characters in the Petronova family but sometimes left the characters feeling a little thin; this book builds on the first to give depth to the family members and their ties to each other. It's a great story but I would strongly advise reading the two books in order to get the full effect of the plot.

The plot is written in four parts, with part one and two telling the same story but from different locations. Part one sees Olga and Sasha Petronova well established within the Moscow elite, Olga as an influential wife and mother, and Sasha as an advisor to the Grand Prince as a warrior monk, who is dealing with a group of bandits burning villages throughout the country and stealing the young girls who live there. Sasha accompanies the Grand Price and his soldiers as they desperately try to track down the culprits and restore order. Part two revisits Vasya as she flees from her village following the tragedy of book one, on her mission to see the world. She mistakenly stumbles across the bandits and escapes from them straight into the arms of her brother. The last two parts tell the rest of the story as it affects all the remaining and reunited members of the Petronova family in Moscow.

There are two main threads to the plot this book and the complexity comes from the weaving of the two threads together. This is done with such subtlety and care that the story flows beautifully but with much more weight and action than in the previous book. The first thread is Vasya’s continued relationship with the old world of spirits and sprites and her magical power. This is not cliché spellcasting and witchcraft but rather shows the power of tradition and belief, both in oneself and in one’s religion. Vasya battles with the impact this has on her life; she has already been chased out of one village as a witch, and she sees the spirits slowly dwindle as Christianity strengthens its hold over Moscow. Again we see that the weakening of the small spirits leaves the way open for greater evil to take advantage. Into this battle steps Father Konstantin, back for revenge for the wrongs he believes are all Vasya’s doing whist still refusing to take responsibility for his own feelings and actions. He remains a sinister, rotten man, choosing to label Vasya as a witch and blaming her for his own corrupted soul. I love this character and was so pleased to see his return.

At the same time there is the second plot line, that of the girl in the tower. This plot line was very gently suggested and hinted at and allowed the whole plot to take on extra importance and weight but without ever being heavy handed. The story keeps allowing the reader to guess the importance of the girl in the tower. In this plot line the women take centre stage and there are several characters who are all connected. Marya is Vasya’s niece and shares Vasya’s spirit as well as the gift of Sight and in her we see Vasya’s childhood fears of being raised to be a wife and mother, shut away as a lady in a rich luxurious cage. That life is being played out before her by her sister Olga who has done her female duty to marry and produce heirs and is kept at all times in her palace, only allowed to leave the walls to attend church. Vasya is appalled by this life and sees Marya’s struggle with it, but is also aware how difficult it is to refuse to conform to society's expectations. There is a moment of wonderful imagery where Vasya is running free around the city and looks up to see her sister and niece watching through the window in one of the palace towers. Vasya has to battle the evil rising within the city, refusing to leave her family to suffer but without being trapped into the restricted life of the girl in the tower. She is determined to fight for her family but will her family fight for her freedom? This story is beautifully written, and yet again I finished this book itching to start the next.

Whilst waiting for the third instalment another books to try is Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Buy The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden at

Buy The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden at


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