Read or Die

Review of Katherine Arden’s Winter of the Witch

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Ms. Arden ripped my heart out within the first handful of pages, I expected to scream and throw the book across the room. (And not crying out in horror at that moment was only prevented by my husband sleeping beside me) Never in a million years did I expect her to travel that path after the journey she’d started with the previous two volumes. And there’s no doubt that she takes Vasya – indeed, all of Rus’ – down a dark and twisted road in this book. But the best fairy tales? (Well, any tale, really) They require the characters to fight for their endings. And she accomplishes precisely that. The emotion is so raw you feel it in your bones. And as difficult as it is to turn the pages, you feel compelled to do so. It’s the perfect blend of history and fantasy, and she’s to be commended. My only disappointment is the minor role Baba Yaga plays. She’s such a vital character in Russian fairy tales, and I would have liked to see more of her woven through. But with the sheer beauty of the journey of Vasya, Sasha, and even Morozko? It’s difficult to complain.

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