Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

My Thoughts:

I’m really enjoying this trilogy! I think the characters are very well developed, varied, and engaging. Although I am so tired of Father Konstantin! Personally, I think Konstantin has overstayed his welcome. But at least with this sequel we were introduced to a number of new characters, particularly male characters. Despite the abundance of men, this story remains a story by and about women.

I enjoyed the ambiguity in the title. Who is The Girl in the Tower? This book’s title points to several characters but also more broadly ventures into discussion about the roles of women. For Vasya could be the titular girl, who, due to a series of events, is forced into a more traditional sphere. As such, she is the rebellious girl in the tower, forced there against her will. Or it could be Vasya’s older sister, Olga. Now a favored and admired Princess, Olga spends long days and nights inside her tower, stuck in the limited role of a noble woman. It could also be Vasya’s niece and Olga’s daughter, Marya. Much to her mother’s dismay, it appears that Marya inherited her Aunt Vasya’s special sight. Arden draws many parallels between Vasya and Marya. I’m pleased that these magical abilities seem hereditary amongst the women which provides a unique quality to their limited lives within this world.

I also appreciate that Arden takes everyday themes, such as arranged marriage or gender roles, and elevates the stakes through fantasy. This simultaneously makes this an everyday story and a special story. Why only four stars out of five? I think my dismay stems from the story’s pacing. Similar to the first book, the story starts strong, moves quite slowly through the middle, and then rapidly escalated in the final fifty pages. It’s an engaging story, to be sure, but I think could stand some tightening.

Wrap Up:

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am eagerly awaiting the final book in the trilogy, which comes out next year! I highly recommend this book. It’s perfect for fans of Harry Potter and A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.

This book is…

delightful

magical

dark

feminist

hopeful

Publisher: Del Rey

Genre: fantasy

Page Count: 363

ISBN: 1101885963

Available here from Book Depository.

Have you read The Girl in the Tower? What’s your favorite dark fantasy novel? Be sure to read my review of the first book in this series, The Bear and the Nightingale!

I am an affiliate with Book Depository and as such, receive a tiny commission should you choose to click through any of the above links and purchase the book(s). Thank you for supporting A Word is Power!

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