[A quick note: I still can’t get over how stunning the Fairyloot set is for the Winternight Trilogy. And now I’ve got this gorgeous mug from Illumicrate designed by Rosie Thornes depicting Vasya and the winter king himself, Morozko, writing their beautiful horses through the woods. And yes, I enjoyed drinking all the hot chocolate after taking this photo!]
“𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐭𝐡, 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐦𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫: 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐥𝐞𝐟𝐭 𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐧. 𝐃𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐦𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐭, 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫; 𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐛𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐬𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐭.” —Katherine Arden
Disguised as a boy, Vasya takes to the road with her trusty steed. What starts as a desire for adventure turns into a quest for justice. Soon, Vasya is wrapped up in Moscow’s politics, in a dangerous position. Caught in a lie, she must fight to maintain the guise or lose everything.
ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL! Packed with adventure, intrigue, and danger, this was even better than the first! It has one of my favorite tropes: girl disguised as a boy. There’s something so thrilling, so edge-of-your seat about a girl masquerading as a boy, having to keep it secret, hoping no one will discover it. Vasya is a strong, spirited protagonist with no intention to live the way women are expected. Her only option is masquerading as a male, which was handled quite well! What starts off as a harmless charade turns dangerous when Moscow’s prince grows fond of her, believing she’s Brother Aleksander’s little brother. Only, she’s not his brother, but rather, his little sister! And if the prince discovers this treachery, it won’t be Vasya who pays, but her whole family.
There’s so much Russian folklore dripping from the pages of this book, giving it a magical fairytale feel. My favorite incorporation was Koschei the Dethless and the famous Firebird. Seeing how both of these elements played into the main story was wonderful. Not to mention the role Koschei played, and what happened when Koschei played his hand. I couldn’t put the book down after that. Talk about heart-pounding!
And then you have Vasya’s character, which has matured considerably since the first book. She’s finally doing something for herself, and she’s headstrong about it. When asked by Morozko to rethink her plans for adventure, she stands her ground and fights for what she wants. She enjoys being a boy, enjoys the freedom of it, but she’s also maturing sexually, and finding that simple acts such as kissing ignite a passion within her. And she isn’t the only one changing. The winter-king is changing too, becoming more human because of Vasya, because of what he feels for her. I adore the dynamic between Vasya and Morozko.
The plot was excellent! Arden did a great job dropping little hints throughout the story. There was a level of court intrigue that added tons of mystery. Unlike the first book, this one felt like it had more structure, more supporting elements that were evident very early on and developed throughout. I enjoyed coming up with theories about who was going to betray who, and what would happen. I loved the way the ghost hiding in the tower played into the main storyline as it related to Koschei.
This is a magical YA read that will appeal to people of all ages. Heck, my mom read it and gushed about it, begging me to HURRY UP AND READ IT. The writing style, with its fairytale feel, makes it easy to fall into and difficult to put down. I continuously kept saying, “Just one more chapter” until I realized I’d finished the entire book! Definitely recommended for those who want an accurate historic feel to Russian culture, paired with folklore, and a spirited heroine. 𝐌𝐘 𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆: 𝟓/𝟓⭐️