What a wonderful continuation of the “Winternight Trilogy” by Katherine Arden. We don’t only follow Vaysa in this one, we follow her brother and sister. We also get a couple of appearances from the fallen priest from book #1 and even more insight into Morozko.
I wanted to see what the future held for Vasya and the Winter King and now in part two we get to follow Vasya after she rejects a typical life for freedom on the road with her stallion Solovey. Unfortunately, a new villain and an old enemy rear their heads in the second book which leads Vasya back to her brother Sasha, and her sister Olga, who all together try to stop Moscow from falling.
Vasya will win your heart. After blaming herself for her father’s death in the first book, Vasya realizes she cannot stay in her village. She will either be forced to marry, forced to enter a convent, or be damned as a witch and killed. She wants to go traveling, see cities she has heard of, and be with Solovey. When she is given an option by Morozko, she takes freedom on the road though he warns her away from it. Vasya decides to go about as a boy and pretty quickly comes to danger. Though she eventually does meet up with her family again, it is not a warm reunion.
We get more insight into Morozko and his past along with why the necklace that Vasya wears is so important. It reminded me a bit of “American Gods” since it delves into beliefs keeping gods and goddesses alive. You do get to see the winter king turn warm though since we realize even if he does not, that he is falling in love with Vasya.
Sasha has his beliefs in Christianity and is going to do what he can to support his cousin, the Prince of Moscow. I think that it was smart that Arden set up the pagan beliefs that Vasya believes in against what Sasha has belief in as well.
Olga though she is a princess, is smarter in a way than Sasha and Vasya. She sees strategies all at once and comes to conclusions quickly.
When the three siblings are together again (after ten years) you get to see the ways in which they are similar and the ways in which they have grown apart from each other.
The writing is very good. Arden has a great gift for setting a scene for you. I felt cold and hungry at times reading about Vasya’s life on the road. Arden also links her writing to the bigger tale about a snow maiden that ended up falling in love and melting away when she decided she wanted to feel love. There’s a word of warning in there for Vasya, but you have to read onto book #3 to see what the future holds for her.
The flow was great. The book moves seamlessly between Olga, Sasha, Vasya and back again. I found myself holding my breath at times and just muttering that all of them needed to survive what was coming to Moscow.
I really enjoyed the world building. I already read the third and final book so I know what comes next. I do wish that Arden would do an anthology that follows Vasya and others she has introduced in her books.
The ending was a surprise, but I worry for Vasya.