[A quick note: GAHHHH, it’s over. I understand the hype. It’s real. Why did I wait so long to read this series?! Don’t be like me. Pick these books up if you haven’t. With their winter aesthetic, their folklore, and fairytale feel, you’ll be transported, just like I was. And wow, these fairyloot copies. Every time I look at them, I can’t stand how pretty they are!]
“𝐌𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐜 𝐢𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐭.”—Katherine Arden
The Winter of the Witch picks up right were The Girl in the Tower left off. With heart pounding action, a devastating loss, and a trip through midnight, the stage is set for a gorgeous journey into discovering what it means to walk the line of good and evil. We see even more growth from Vasya’s character as she blossoms into the strong heroine she was meant to be.
The prose, the writing, the plot, structure, character development, was all just perfection. I love the fairytale style of writing that Katherine Arden uses. Her storytelling is magical, transporting you to a different world, a different time. But there were a few key elements that stood out the most.
Hellooooo morally gray characters! One of my favorite aspects about the Winternight trilogy, (especially with The Winter of the Witch) is their numerous presence throughout. Y’all, I LIVE for this. The Bear, Morozko, the priest (that damned frustrating priest), some of the Fae folk like Lady Midnight, and even the main character Vasya. In fact, there isn’t a single perfect character in this book. Everyone is riddled with realistic imperfections. Even Vasya must make some questionable decisions.
“𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐧𝐨 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐧𝐨 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐬. 𝐎𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐢𝐧𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐞 𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐚𝐩𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐲, 𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐤. 𝐎𝐧𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐧’𝐬 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐦𝐚𝐧’𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐝. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭.” —Katherine Arden
I loved that the “bad guys” had aspects that were not entirely bad, things the reader could understand and even relate to; just when you think the villain is entirely villainous, BOOM, they do something human and understandable. I’ll be damned if Katherine Arden didn’t make me feel something for each one of these antagonists before the end. I didn’t WANT to feel anything for them. And yet, I did!!
Okay, the folklore??? It packs a punch. How cool is the “Midnight Road” and all the beautiful horses by the lake that are technically birds? I loved that Vasya had to unite all of Russia’s current beliefs (religion) with the old beliefs (in the gods and fae folk). Uniting these elements against the Tartars was key to their survival. It was done so, so…perfectly!
Oh, and be still my beating heart! Morozko and Vasya’s relationship?!?! That they were forced to be apart, that there were times they couldn’t fill the same space together, that Morozko was forced to remain in winter because of what he was, and yet, he STILL made sacrifices for Vasya that cost them. Ahhhhh. The two of them—I loved them. Their relationship was oh-so-satisfying.
“𝐋𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐟𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞, 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐢𝐭 𝐠𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐥𝐨𝐬𝐬. 𝐀𝐧 𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲, 𝐬𝐨 𝐛𝐮𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐝, 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐞 𝐚 𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭. 𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐲𝐞𝐭—” 𝐇𝐞 𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐤𝐞 𝐨𝐟𝐟, 𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐰 𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡. “𝐘𝐞𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐞𝐥𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐢𝐭, 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐣𝐨𝐲?”—Katherine Arden
Gahhhh, it’s OVER!!!!!!!! Parting is such sweet sorrow. I felt a deep sense of loss and absence when I finished this book, knowing that the trilogy was finished. And yet, there was also the satisfaction and warmth of having completed an incredible story. I even texted my mom the moment I finished to tell her how devastated I was. She loved the trilogy just as much as me, and really pushed me to read it. 𝐌𝐘 𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆: 𝟓/𝟓⭐️