The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden, narrated by Kathleen Gati

Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the best-selling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

The Winternight Trilogy introduced an unforgettable heroine, Vasilisa Petrovna, a girl determined to forge her own path in a world that would rather lock her away. Her gifts and her courage have drawn the attention of Morozko, the winter-king, but it is too soon to know if this connection will prove a blessing or a curse. Now, Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers – and for someone to blame.

Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The grand prince is in a rage, choosing allies who will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders.

Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

The Winter of the Witch was a wonderful conclusion to the Winternight Trilogy. Katherine said in the Author’s Note that from the earliest drafts of The Bear and the Nightingale that she knew where she wanted it to end but the path had varied.

I feel I know what she means because I read the ARC for the second book, The Girl in the Tower, and the very end was changed when I listened to the audiobook. I think the change was wise.

I also loved learning from the Author’s Note what was historically accurate and what was imagined for a story with magic. I loved the balance of powers at the end. It was so perfect and so carefully orchestrated.

Vasya’s development and growth was so well done. It’s a true coming of age story for a witch finding her place in the world and learning to accept some outcomes.

4.5 out of 5 Mushrooms.

There are some details that I want to address and for that I am issuing a SPOILER WARNING!

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The beginning when Konstantin was stirring up the mob to torture and burn Vasya for being a witch, that was some of the hardest parts to listen to. I was livid with Konstantin and just breaking inside for Vasya. A very powerful and scary start to the novel.

I was shocked when Konstantin slit his own throat at the end but his ever changing moods and relationship with the Bear was one of the most fascinating I have read.

Which makes me want to go back a bit to what I said earlier about Vasya’s development. I love that she defies what is expected of women in medieval Russian and finds her own power and purpose. I love that she is the balance between Morozko and the Bear and be the bridge between Christians and Pagans. It is so perfect.

Vasya also shows how much she grew when she listened to Sasha’s wishes and let him die. Which was so freaking heartbreaking. I cried. Good thing I didn’t read the Author’s Note first because then I would have know Sasha was based on a real monk who died in the final battle that really took place in 1380.

A shout out to Ded Grib (“grandfather mushroom”) who was the cutest little thing! And the first to join Vasya. Gati’s narration for his voice was adorable. I loved her narration for the whole trilogy and without the audiobooks I would not know how to pronounce 95% of the Russian names and words.

I realized in the first book the Bear is in prison; the second book it is Tamara’s spirit confined to the Tower, and in the third Morozko is in prison. All break free.

I loved, loved, loved learning about some of Vasya’s family history with her great grandma (Baba Yaga), her great grandfather (the Sea King, Chernomor) and their twins Tamara and Varvara. There is a whole prequel there (I would totally read!), as well as a sequel. I would love to see Vasya in the future come into her power more, minus the madness, and taking a trip with Morozko to meet Chernomor.

I totally ship, have been shipping, Vasya and Morozko and their love scene in the bathhouse was muy caliente.

There are just a few reasons why I took off half a point of a perfect score.
I really missed Vasya’s other brother, Alyosha, and half-sister, Irena. I don’t see how they would fit in the story, but I wish there had been an epilogue where the whole family was reunited at Lesnaya Zemlya.

Poor Olga never gets to see her husband! Does Vladimir know their daughter died?

What happened to Vasya’s other horse, the mare she tamed? I was so happy that Solovey came back at the end because I missed him this whole book. I was crushed when he died. I love horses.

Here are some of the quotes that really stood out to me: (page numbers are from the ARC).

Page 38: “Magic is forgetting the world was ever other than as you willed it.”

Page 191: “It is not for men and women to presume what the Lord wishes. That way lies evil, when men put themselves too high, saying, I know what God wants, for it is also what I want.”

Page 236: Brother, you and I will stay locked in our endless war, even as we fade into ash and frost, and the world is changed. There is no hope for the chyerti.”

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One thought on “The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden, narrated by Kathleen Gati

  1. Pingback: New York Comic Con 2018 – Sunday, October 7 | Stephanie

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