I was about the day I finished The Girl in the Tower-years old when I realized two things: one, this series is YA darkish fantasy romance; and two, I don’t especially care for YA darkish fantasy romance. The problem is that there are a few characters I do want to see what happens to and the setting is interesting, with its mix of Russian folklore and history. I also do like the conflict from the first novel, not so much present here, between the old world and the new.
My primary issue seems to be Vasya, and since she’s the heroine, that makes it hard to really enjoy the story. I don’t mind so much that she’s not perfect, but she seems to be incredibly self-absorbed for the entire story. I’m not sure how old she is, but she’s got to be older than 10 years old and that’s about her mental age. She refuses to listen to anyone older than she is, like Sasha and Olya, when they warn her about serious consequences, and then when other people mostly have to face said consequences, she feels bad, but then goes and does the same thing multiple times. Rebelling against unjust social rules is well and good, but doing it when everyone around you is likely to suffer for it more than Vasya gets old. There is some reality to Vasya and her situation. There’s a scene involving a still-birth that’s slightly graphic, and Vasya acknowledges the tragedy directly, but since she had something to do with the tragedy and never directly admits to why her part was wrong (she just feels bad), it’s hard to understand why everyone keeps supporting her. I get that family is important, and that’s good, but why can’t she learn her lesson already?!
It was great to see more of brother Sasha and sister Olya, but it’s too bad there was virtually nothing about the family left behind in Vasya’s original hometown. There is more development for Morozko which is interesting to see, but his becoming more human (kind of) is too cliché to be interesting. I also really wish that if Father Konstatin is going to be back, and he is, that there was more of him, even if it were just some more character development. He’s really interesting as a character, but he, like Vasya, seems stuck. This is especially aggravating because he might have some connection to the main villain of the story, but it’s a watered down version of the previous novel. The villain also could really use some better motive and presence earlier in the story as potential bad guy.
I shall read the conclusion of the trilogy, but only for Sasha and the rest of the family. I also really want to see what ends up happening to the tormented priest. I don’t especially care about Vasya, and I can guess what’s going to happen with her and Morozko. It’s practically inevitable at this point.