Friday, February 8, 2019

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

The Winter of the Witch: A Novel by Katherine Arden --- 372 pages including Author's Note, Note on Russian Names, Glossary, Family Tree and Acknowledgements.

The Winter of the Witch is the third and final volume in Arden's Winternight Trilogy, which also includes The Bear and the Nightingale (2017) and The Girl in the Tower (2018). This fantasy trilogy is based on the history and folklore of 14th century Rus, and the historic Battle of Kulikovo, when the princes and boyers finally united under Dimitri, Grand Prince of Moscow, to defeat the Tatars of the Mongol Golden Horde; it is celebrated in Russian history as the beginning of the Russian nation. 

As the third book opens, Moscow is on fire and the false priest Konstantin has put the blame on Vasya Petrovna. A frightened, furious mob drags Vasya down to the river to burn her as a witch, but she contrives to escape, drawing on her own powers and with the help of the chertyi, the pagan guardians of the land who are slowly fading under the pressure of the Church.

Vasya escapes into Midnight, a place of myth and magic, where she learns the secrets of her heritage in an encounter with her great-grandmother, Baba Yaga. But with knowledge comes responsibility. Vasya is determined to find a way to save her family, her friends, her country, and to reconcile the old Rus of magic with the new Rus of Christianity.

The Winternight Trilogy is filled with its author's love for Russian history, language, myth and folklore. Her aim is to reconcile warring factions and disparate beliefs into a world harmonious and whole.  She achieves a powerful end to a beautiful trilogy, filled with memorable images and characters --- none more so than Vasya herself.

Click HERE to read the * review from Publishers Weekly.

Click HERE to read the review from Kirkus Reviews.

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