Spoiler Free Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Title: The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy #2)

Author: Katherine Arden

Pub. Date: December 5th, 2017

Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Publisher: Del Rey

Pages: 363

Format: eGalley & Physical ARC

    

Words? what are they? I seriously don’t think I can do this book justice but because I feel EVERYONE should read this trilogy, I will pull myself together & let you all know why Katherine Arden is a force to be reckoned with. I thought Arden’s debut The Bear and the Nightingale was AMAZING! If this author never wrote anything again, I would’ve been saddened but also would’ve felt like I had found a diamond I could treasure for the rest of my life! a lush & vivid world I can see myself returning to on a cold winter night year after year. I was NOT expecting to be blown away by its sequel The Girl in the Tower! not only has our MC grown since the last time we saw her but the world itself has expanded & developed to give us readers a better picture of Vasya’s travels & adventures outside her small village & woods. We last left off with Vasya having no choice but to leave her only known home once she was labeled a witch. It was expected that she’d be sent to her sister Olya in Moscow to be paired off in marriage & spend her days with the other women who live in a tower child rearing & running their households. Vasya however has never had an interest in these things & could never be tied down for the rest of her days. Having always found comfort in “boys clothing” she finds she can see the world without restrictions.

Choosing instead to map out her own destiny, Vasya sets off into the woods on her horse Solovey. If The Bear and the Nightingale was mostly world-building & the fleshing out of characters, this follow-up introduces a fast paced plot while also balancing & building upon its predecessor. Villages are being pillaged and burned, their little girls are being stolen away from their families. Vasya finds herself in the middle of it all as she fights the bandits and eventually captures the attention of the Grand Prince of Moscow with her bravery. We follow Vasya as she uncovers the sinister forces threatening the kingdom all whilst keeping her true identity hidden.

Vasya- still holds the title of my Most Favorite MC in all of Fantasy! Her independence, self worth, bravery, fierceness and determination not to conform to society’s gender norms speak to my soul. In The Bear and the Nightingale we are introduced to a young Vasya who is considered very wild and rebellious. In this follow-up, we get to see how much she’s matured while still staying true to who she is at her core. I loved seeing older Vasya experience new things and emotions.

”Sudden anger burned out Vasya’s gathering hurt. She pushed back her chair and stood again. “I am not your dog”, she snapped. “You May tell me to go home, but I may choose not to. Do you think that is all I want, in all my life—a royal dowry, and a man to force his children into me?” 

 Morozko aka Frost Demon aka King of Winter – Morozko plays a integral role in this story but it wasn’t until this follow-up that I truly grew to love this character. Think of him a mix of Father Winter & Grimm Reaper, his broodiness was on another level & for some reason I found this to be so endearing smh #dontjudgeme haha!

Solovey – My fave character in this whole book is Solovey who is Vasya’s horse & UGH! my heart can’t contain the love I have for this sassy four legged creature! besides the sass he is SUPER protective & loyal to Vasya which is always admirable.

Sasha aka Aleksandr – Vasya’s older brother who also decided to carve his own path & become a monk. This however doesn’t mean he is a peaceful monk lol, Sasha can be found protecting his cousin The Grand Prince which means swords a plenty. I LOVE the sibling relationship between Vasya and Sasha, moments where he wishes she’d just conform to the norm & marry but then quickly realizes that the thought alone sounds absurd. Sasha accepts & many times admires Vasya on the battlefield. He’s seriously the brother I wish I’d always had 🙂

Olya – Vasya’s older sister, last we heard of her she had gotten married and left to Moscow to tend to her household. Olya has always been sort of a mother figure to her siblings so it was interesting seeing her very different relationship with Vasya. Olya loves all of her siblings & doesn’t always understand the things they do but she’s always represented home for them.

Marya – One of the newest characters introduced towards the end, Marya is Olya’s young daughter. Although she didn’t have a huge role in this book, we get the feeling there will be more to her story. Marya is free spirited just like Vasya & as such looks up to her aunt. I got a vivid picture of young Marya who will remind many of the Vasya we were first introduced to however, she is definitely more outspoken 😉

Last but definitely not least are the spirits aka Chyerti you will find hidden in the ovens, bath houses, horse stables, and door yards. These are perhaps some of my most favorite characters in this world. I’m totally considering leaving an offering in my oven to see if my Domovoi shows up *fingers crossed* 😉

It comes as no surprise that I am absolutely OBSESSED with Katherine Arden’s writing! I would’ve never guessed when I was handed a copy of the book by the author herself at Comic Con that she was giving me the BEST gift ever! I can think of no other books that better capture the magic and beauty of winter. A cozy blanket on a cold winter night is what I always use to describe this book to my book blogging buddies & wrap you up it will. Many who found The Bear and the Nightingale to be on the slower side might find themselves really enjoying the faster paced plot in The Girl in the Tower. I for one don’t mind a slow paced world as long as it’s rich & inviting like these are. Also, there is a clear cut villain this time which felt like the connecting puzzle piece & I just loved seeing it all come together. I am SUPER STOKED for The Winter of the Witch in 2018!!! as sad as I’m sure I will be to see it end, I am confident Katherine Arden will give us all a EPIC ending to this amazing trilogy 🙂

*Many thanks to Del Rey, Netgalley, and Katherine Arden for the eGalley copy of  The Girl in the Tower in exchange for an honest review.


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Top Ten Tuesday 9/19/2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Each week, a new topic is put into place and bloggers share their top ten accordingly. This weeks topic is: Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List (in no specific order). Fall is when I’m MOST excited to settle down with books that are mostly dark Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Psychological Thrillers. This year I’m throwing in a bit of Sci-Fi for a change of pace. Most of these books are also arcs that I either picked up at Bookcon or was approved for on Netgalley/Edelweiss.

* Covers link to Goodreads

September 19th 2017: Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List

1. Wild Beauty By Anna-MarieMcLemore

Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

* I read When The Moon Was Ours some time last year & fell in love with McLemore’s writing! I’ve heard early reviewers speak highly of Wild Beauty, I’m SOOOO ready for this one 🙂


2. The Tiger’s Daughter (Their Bright Ascendency #1) by Arsenault Rivera

Even gods can be slain….

The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach―but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.

* I caught wind of this one on Twitter & V.E. Schwab’s blurb immediately had me well on my way to Netgalley. As a Fantasy lover I was intrigued & to see that the author is Latinx was enough for me to know I had to give this one a go 🙂


3. Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

* Historical Fiction in YA is one of my fave sub-genres & this one just has my name written all over it! maybe just maybe…it will fill the void the SHOWtime series Dexter left in my little dark heart *evil grin*


4. The Glass Spare (The Glass Spare #1) by Lauren DeStefano

A banished princess.
A deadly curse.
A kingdom at war.

Wil Heidle, the only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.

Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.

But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with her power.

With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?

OK! confession…I’m just as guilty as the next bookworm when it comes to impulse cover lusting lol. I requested 1st & then read the synopsis but I’m so happy that It’s one I’m genuinely interested in *phew* I can’t resist a female heroine especially one with hidden magical abilities.


5. Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1) by Leigh Bardugo

aughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

It’s Wonder Woman…Lol am I right?


6. The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

* When the Queen puts out 2 books in one year, they must be read at once! lol. Leigh is one of my fave YA authors & this illustrated gemstone (nod to The Glass Spare haha) of a book is one I know I won’t be able to put off reading.


7. The Alchemists Of Loom (Loom Saga, #1) by Elisa Kova

Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom

So I have had my eyes on this series for quite a bit now & it hasn’t been easy resisting the urge to just buy them all cuz would you just look at them! they have STUNNING covers (all 3) 😍😍😍. I’m also a sucker for all things Dragons or mystical creatures in general really. After having just finished Before She Ignites, this one went into my Amazon cart lol. 


8. Artemis by Andy Weir

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

* I didn’t read or watch The Martian although it is on my TBR, Artemis is a Netgalley approval though & so it will be the one I get to 1st & I’m pretty excited for this title 🙂


9. Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff

Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

Long overdue, my twin bff Gretchen @ChicNerdReads has raved about this book & she knows my soul & IT’S TIME! + I pre-ordered Godsgrave smh…it arrived LOL…I have a problem. 


10. The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues 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 MOST prized arc (next to They Both Die at the End of course hehe), I am waiting for November to read this one because it’s so atmospheric that It begs for cold weather. The Bear and the Nightingale was one of my top 10 faves of last year, ahhhh! so excited to have this one 🙂


Happy Tuesday Bookworms!!! I’m posting really late in the day but better late than never right? lol *sobs* if you’ve read any of the books on my list, please feel free to leave me some motivating words  if you think I need to boost any of these to the top of my TBR. Also link me to your TTT & I’ll swing by for some recommendations 😉


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#ARCSTRAVAGANZA #5: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

#ARCstravaganza is a weekly meme hosted by the wonderful Flavia over @Flavia the Bibliophile where book bloggers/bookstagrammers have a chance to show off their ARCs/eARCs/Galleys!

Hello Readers! This is my 5th week participating in #ARCstravaganza Monday & this week I’ve chosen one of my most highly anticipated sequels of this year!!! *eeeeeK* I still cannot believe I was approved on Netgalley but this truly made the end of last week cuz overall last week was a really sucky week in general. The book Gods definitely blessed me with some magic to make up for my troubles haha! Ok so, last year at NYC Comic Con I picked up a copy of The Bear and the Nightingale (see review here) not knowing that it would be my most favorite score. I read it sometime in December 2016 which btw is PERFECT weather for this read, and I fell in love with the writing & the story. From the opening scene in front of a warm fire to the very end, it felt like I was sitting down for story time every single time I picked it up. The cozy feels are real and I am so thrilled to have a early copy of the sequel The Girl in the Tower! Both the covers for these books are S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G! *heart eyes emoji*

*If you haven’t read The Bear in the Nightingale yet, I’d skip the 411 section after my photo*


The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

 


The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues 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.

What are some ARCS/eGalleys you’re excited to have Bookworms? If you’ve participated in #ARCstravaganza this week, please feel free to drop your links & I’ll make my way around <3’s!


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Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

25489134The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Published by: Del Rey

Publication Date: January 10th 2017

Genre: Adult Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Pages: 336 pages

Format: Physical ARC (Bookcon) 

Rating: ★★★★★

HUGE thanks to Del Rey & Katherine Arden for the ARC copy of The Bear and the Nightingale at Bookcon.

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At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

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The Bear and the Nightingale weaves the tale of Vasilisa, a child who grew up listening to the Russian Fairy Tales told by her nurse every night. Tales of the blue-eyed demon and the belief that honoring the house spirits would offer protection from the demon were taken seriously. Everyone in the village would leave out milk & bread to the house spirits in hopes to ward away the evil. The difference between everyone else & Vasilisa however, is that these tales were true and she is known as what is called a seer. Vasilisa’s mother who died in childbirth knew that she was leaving behind a very special girl. A girl that one day would be needed & as such she asked that her husband take much care of Vasilisa. When the tales/demons of Vasilisa’s childhood begin to come to life and threaten her village, she is the only one who could fight the impending war. Many years later, Vasilisa’s father is advised to re-marry in order to provide his daughter with a woman to guide her in life. Her father who was still very much devoted to the memory of his late wife, decided to take this advice and travel to Moscow where he was to find a wife…and here is where all of Vasilisa’s troubles begin…In a village where she is viewed as a witch and the people are easily swayed to convert to christianity, Vasilisa herself must be weary of a witch hunt while trying to protect the entire village.

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Besides the lush world building (see writing & thoughts) in The Bear and the Nightingale, the characters quickly turned out to be some of my favorites. Our female protagonist Vasilisa hasn’t had an easy life, losing her mom on the day she was born and her seer abilities have ensured a challenging road for her. I immediately loved Vasilisa, compared by many to a wood sprite, she loved running into the woods where she would lose track of time. Vasilisa was able to see the spirits in her home as well as in the woods and the water. She maintained a good relationship with them all, many times bringing them offerings to keep them peaceful and in high spirits. She refused to be treated like a maiden & opted instead to wear her brothers clothes. If given the opportunity, she would also carry daggers like her brothers. I loved her spirit and kindness, the warrior in her made me root for her and smile whenever she got her way. The sibling relationship between Vasilisa & her brothers and sisters was interesting & at times fun to read. Vasilisa was very fond of her siblings but i particularly enjoyed seeing her relationship with her brother Alyoshka. He absolutely knew that Vasilisa was not meant to be tied to a man bearing children. As much as he feared for her safety, he also respected her free spirit and was the only one to believe her no matter what. The witty banter between these two also got a few chuckles out of me. The relationship between Vasilisa & her father on the other hand is a bit more complex. He loves his daughter & doesn’t resent her for the death of her mother (the love of his life) but he also would like if she could conform to tradition & be wed. Of course, he knows each of his children and knows that Vasilisa settling down is a challenge he can’t see himself taking on by himself. This man is as old school Russian as they get, yet he himself realized that Vasilisa doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional wife. Some may say that he wasn’t a good dad because of certain scenes where he went old school on her with a “thrashing” whenever she would disappear for days into the woods. I saw the good & the bad in this man burdened by traditions and the fact that he is a Lord of the lands with a reputation to maintain. A widow with a house full of daughters & sons to raise and marry off to ensure their good futures. I didn’t enjoy certain scenes but I saw what the author was giving us… a complex man, flaws & all who loves all of his children and fears seeing any one of them alone. Dunya who is Vasilia’s nurse is hands down my new Grandma! not only can she spin a good tale by the oven in the middle of winter, but she loves all of the kids as hard as she loved their mother when she was her nurse. Last but not least we have the house spirits who all serve their own purpose. All of the different house & wood spirits take offerings whether it be food or blood. The Vazila, a  little old man that lives in the horse stables in essence is the soul of all horses and was my favorite of all the spirits. Add talking horses to these amazing characters & it just doesn’t get better than this cast ❤

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The Bear & The  Nightingale is the ultimate cozy read which I found ideal for this winter season. Every time I opened this book & entered the village and home of Vasilisa, I found it incredibly hard to leave. This book is atmospheric, lush in Russian folklore, culture, and language. The world building is insanely magical and transcending, from the scenes in the woods to the scenes in this families home. There’s plenty about this world to gush about but I really think that it would take away from your reading experience if I were to include it in this review. Some things are just better to discover on your own, I promise you will not be disappointed with all the interesting characters both alive & not so alive that you’ll encounter along the way 😉

I’ve never been to Russia, but this author has lived & studied in Moscow and it’s clear to me that she truly loves & appreciates its culture. The well fleshed out characters made me connect further with this story & that’s key for me whenever i’m reading no matter the genre. The cover for this book captures the heart of the story…Vasilia’s home which is what she chose to protect. The strong familial bonds between Vasilisa and each of her family members was a major focal point & made this into a Fairy Tale of its own. Lastly, I appreciated that nothing was rushed especially not the ending. Instead we see the framework set down for the continuation of Vasilia’s adventure since this is book 1 in an Adult Fantasy trilogy. I am BEYOND excited & READY to go back into this world…kind of hoping that we see book 2 this Fall *fingers crossed* 

Have any of my bookish peeps read The Bear & The Nightingale? if so, who was your favorite character/house or wood spirit? Looking forward to the sequel? if you’ve reviewed TBATNG, drop that link down below and i’ll swing by ❤ ❤ ❤