Publisher: Del Ray
Release: December 5th 2017
I received a copy of The Girl in the Tower from Bookishfirst in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I’m going to say it right now; I think this book has officially made it into my favorite books of the year list. I absolutely loved it! The cover alone is utterly stunning, and if I’m being honest that is what caught my attention to begin with. I’ll confess that I had not read the Bear and the Nightingale before reading this (I didn’t know it was a trilogy until after I started, and by then I was too into it to put the book down), but honestly it’s so strong and informative that it stands up very well on its own (though I’m definitely going back to read the first novel next!).
This was a truly enchanting tale; using a massive infusion of Russian mythology to bring the fantastical world to life (and as a side note; there’s a glossary in the back of the book to explain all of the creatures mentioned!). I’ve always been interested in reading fantasy stories with a Russian influence (their faerie tales are wonderful), but they seem to be few and far between (in my experience at least). For this reason alone the Girl in the Tower was a treasure to me, but there are so many other magnificent points about it as well.
I loved the shifting balance in this novel, sometimes it felt almost like a faerie tale (such as when Vasya is with her horse Solovey) and other times the story is very much rooted in the real world (such as the dangers of mortal men). There’s a touch of romance in this story as well; though it is more of the unrequited love feel than anything else (how else can things go, between a mortal and an immortal?). There’s so much emotion wrapped up into these characters, it’s easy to forget we’re merely staring at the pages of a book.
The Girl in the Tower touched upon many real life points as well – how noble women (and women in general for that matter) during that time were treated; how limited their options truly were. We’re shown how rough the winters could be, how dangerous raiders are to small towns, and how easily men are brought to betrayal. We’re shown that men that claim to be wise and pious can be corrupted, bringing about more danger than they should be able to. All these elements combined together to create a truly breathtaking and frightening conclusion.
The characters are so well designed in this story, especially Vasya (the main character). She’s bright and stubborn, determined, and brave in ways one can only hope to be themselves. It sounds like she’s been through quite a lot already (again, I haven’t read the Bear and the Nightingale, but I was able to gather a lot of the events based on context), and yet she’s still going. Vasya is the daughter of a lord, this naturally limits what she’s allowed to do or how she’s allowed to act; yet she’ll have none of that. Determined to make her own path in life, Vasya decides to become a traveler (though she accedes to the advice of a good friend and dresses as a boy, for her own safety).
In a way I’m lucky that I haven’t read the Bear and the Nightingale yet, as now I have something to read while I wait for the third novel (The Winter of the Witch) to come out. But it won’t be long before I join the ranks of those anxiously awaiting the next book to drop.