After hearing rave review after rave review for The Bear and the Nightingale, I took a chance and read even though it’s not typically a genre I read or enjoy. I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the atmospheric reimagining of Vasilisa. And I was so ready to dive back into the world of this retelling of a Russian folktale.
The 411: Your feisty fave, Vasya, is back and faced with the ever-looming decision of taking a husband or going to the convent. Obviously, neither of these options is attractive to her. She’s also tired of the judgment from the villagers, who still deem her a witch due to the mysterious circumstances surrounding her father’s death. Vasya decides to become a traveler and hops on Solovey for a life on the road. After running into burnt and pillaged towns overtaken by rebels, Vasya becomes a hero and takes on the persona of Vasilii, a male. Throw in her complicated relationship with the frost-demon, Morosko, and her estranged family, it’s adventure after adventure for Vasya.
For me, reading this was a different experience than the first book. While I greatly enjoyed “Bear,” I kind of felt like I was playing catch up the entire time trying to figure out the characters, settings, and different elements of the folklore. And although more characters are introduced and more story is revealed, it was nice having that background knowledge to build from. I was able to move more quickly through it, and therefore, flowed better in my head.
The writing is just as descriptive and really puts you in the story being told. I love Vasya and how steadfast and independent she is. I also don’t feel strongly towards horses, but I want a Solovey in my life. And I know it could never happen, but I’m so invested in Vasya and Morosko’s relationship, particularly in the romance department. I’m hoping and praying for a miracle in the final book.
PS Life Hack: If you’re finding you need a memory refresher, there’s a handy dandy reference guide in the back that I found INCREDIBLY helpful.
PPS This was my pick for Book Riot‘s Must Read December New Releases. Check out the full list here!
MY RATING: ✰✰✰✰
RECOMMENDED FOR: lovers of historical fiction, retellings, and fans of book 1
Thank you Del Rey books for my galley. The Girl in the Tower is available December 5.