7 Apr 2023

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: THE WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY by Katherine Arden

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!


Author: Katherine Arden
Series: The Winternight Trilogy #1
Source: Audible
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Publication Date: January 10, 2017

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn't mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse's fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa's mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa's new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa's stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse's most frightening tales.

The Bear and the Nightingale is a magical debut novel from a gifted and gorgeous voice. It spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent.

Content WarningsMisogyny (theme), Religious persecution (theme), Ableism & ableist language, Rape (multiple, off-page), martial rape & sexual assault, Adult-minor relationship and forced arranged marriage, Physical child abuse, Suicide (self-sacrifice), Pregnancy & death from childbirth, Abortion discussed, Alcohol consumption, Grief & loss depiction, Death of a wife & mother, Death of a father, Graphic animal death & hunting, War themes mentioned

The Bear and the Nightingale

I really enjoyed this one! I loved the elements of Russian folklore and weaving that into the story itself. While this is a great read in the winter time, I would say that the themes in it can be quite heavy at times. It did also drag at times, which made me lose a bit of interest throughout.

The atmosphere and setting are really what kept me captivated, though. The writing style and depictions of the setting where so immaculately done that I felt as though I was there the entire time. I could feel the biting cold throughout my reading of it.

I did like Vasilisa and her story, especially the magical aspects of it. I thought she was quick-witted and brave, but sometimes too stubborn for her own good. It was easy to relate to her and to root for her along the way.

Since the series is done, I will be continuing with it! I recommend trying this one out if you enjoy fairytales.

The Girl in the Tower

I wasn't sure how this series would continue and keep reader's interests. Sometimes when you mix a lot of folklore and mythology together, it gets too convoluted and the characters lose meaning beyond "portrayal of this other character." But I'm SO happy that it didn't happen here.

This story feels fresh and new while still continuing from where we left off last time. We also get a lot more political aspects because we are brought to Moscow. I really enjoyed Vasya masquerading as a boy to experience the world around her. It was so interesting to see how there is safety in nature (and winter, in Vasya's case) but you lose that protection once you leave.

I highly enjoyed and recommend this series if you like feminist stories, historical fantasy, and magical elements intertwined seamlessly.

The Winter of the Witch

A satisfying conclusion to this series!

This is a book about the bonds of family, blood and found, and doing whatever it takes to protect the ones you love. This is a book about religion and the beautiful and terrible things people are willing to do in the name of it. This is a book about all the different pieces that make a person, and how it is okay to love them all even if others won’t. But this is ultimately a book about a girl becoming the hero of her own story every single time, no matter who or what tries to block her path.

I loved so much about this series, this novel, and these characters. This is exactly what historical fantasy should be, especially mixed with the folklore it was. I will be recommending this for years to come!

Have you read this book? What was your favourite part?

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