The Girl in the Tower is rich and the balance between politics and story that Arden maintains makes for an enjoyable read which picks you up and is hesitant to let go. The sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale takes place right after the first and it wastes no time orienting its reader. Prepare to be immersed as you are taken on a journey of mystery and magic.
The court of the Grand Prince of Moscow is plagued by power struggles and rumours of unrest. Meanwhile bandits roam the countryside, burning the villages and kidnapping its daughters. Setting out to defeat the raiders, the Prince and his trusted companion come across a young man riding a magnificent horse.
Only Sasha, a priest with a warrior’s training, recognises this ‘boy’ as his younger sister, thought to be dead or a witch by her village. But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, Sasha realises he must keep her secret as she may be the only way to save the city from threats both human and fantastical…
I read The Bear and the Nightingale before it came out, so it has been a while since I was in Vasya’s world. This sequel begins with her family, which took a little time to get used to, but once I did, I was hooked. Although I enjoyed reading more about the other family members in this book, Vasya’s perspective is where the book captivates you. Quickly I snuggled back into the book and the way politics and history are seamlessly interwoven with magic and intense family relationships.
I am consistently in love with Vasya, and I’ll continue reading this series forever. But in this book, more than the previous one, we are introduced more fully to a world where women are silenced and scapegoated as witches. For Vasya, her options are limited: get married or live in a convent, so this book is where she shines. I adored the way Arden illustrates the social commentary on the ways society will not accept those who will not shave away parts of themselves to fit into expectations.
Arden portrays a society at a time in transition, historically and politically. We spend time in the midst of personal relationships with family members, political intrigue, and fascinating history all at the same time. I admire the way Arden does not allow Vasya easy choices because there are none – how do we live in a world that seeks to silence us? I empathize with this desire to run against the boundaries of society’s expectations and the ways people seek to imprison us within glass cages. You will find yourself eating up the pages at the end, and wanting to drown out the world around you.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.
Do you ever wish you could go back and live in another time period?
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