Winter of the Witch: A Wonderful Conclusion to a Great Trilogy
Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
A couple years ago I decided to read a little book called The Bear and the Nightingale. And it was a complete surprise. Not only was the book good. It was one of the best fantasy books I ever read. The book was a beginning of a trilogy that remained great well into the second book. And now the final book in the trilogy Winter of the Witch has come out. How does this wrap up? And most of all is it a perfect conclusion to this great fantasy? Here is my review of Winter of the Witch by Katherine Aldren.
So what is it about? The series has been following Vasya. She is a young woman who has always been different. She’s unconventional, wild and can see the woodland spirits and demons that live in the world unseen by others. She has been shamed and accused of witchcraft. She had to runaway from home disguised as a boy to find her place in the world. After the events of book two she was accused of witchcraft once more and all of Moscow tries to burn her. She escapes narrowly into the realm of Midnight.
Half dead in a realm of eternal darkness she has to pull herself together as the last two books have led up to two very terrible conflicts The demon known as the Bear is out once again raising dead to kill people and the Tarters are going to war with a weakened Russia, her home. To do this, she must find the Winter King Mozoko and break him out of his prison to help her save Moscow from the dead and the Tarters. It’s a tall order but she’s determined to pull it off.
So let’s start with the good. First of all, this is a very satisfying conclusion to the series. It may not be as epic as some would like, but it concludes the fundamental core story line of Vasya finding her place in the world. Throughout this whole series, she’s been a girl who does not act like a proper woman. She is frowned upon and does not fit in societal norms. Suitors are forced upon her by family even don’t like her because of her nature and unattractiveness. She sees a spirit world that is dying and churches tell her it is not real. And it seems where ever she goes, she is accused of witchcraft. And for her to have a happy ending is wonderful. It’s a well told story arc. Also the themes of love for her family and country is stronger than anything leads to some wonderful scenes. The back to back battle for Russia against the undead with war against the Tarters was great. It really did a good job wrapping things up. Also the villain of priest Konstantine was one of the greatest layered villains I’ve seen in a long time. Another thing is that book laid off the sexism. I know this book takes place around the 13th to 14th century Russia and from the little I know about Russian history, that was not a very good place to live in you were poor. So the rich men could have been absolutely crazy in this part of the world history for all that I know. But throughout the books all male characters beside her family have been super rapey. Here in this book not all guys were full on rapists. It was nice to see author back off of every man being evil and showed that there are men with morals in this world. I know the third book is super late to show this. But late is better than never.
Now the bad? As much of a good conclusion this is, it’s not perfect. The book really slows down as she travels through the realm of Midnight injured. It slows down a lot where I began to get bored. Then once she leaves, everything speeds up, but maybe too much. There are parts of the war or the undead battle where I wish the story took its time. Because it just was so fun I wish they spent as much time as they did with the Midnight scene. Point is, the book had strange pacing. Then there’s another thing that felt off. Vasya and the Winter King have fallen in love but they seem to have no chemistry. The book kept telling me they were in love, but never showed me. I struggled to believe it. Another issue is much of this book series carried the theme of feminism on its sleeve. It is constantly grandstanding saying women are as good as men. Which is a good message. But there is a point in the story where Vasya has no choice and must have sex with a character to break a curse. It is very bizarre and seems to fly in the face of the message this series carried. It felt demeaning to her, as she was portrayed as so strong up until that point.
Overall, it’s a little flawed but it’s a wonderful conclusion to the Winter Night Trilogy which is an accomplishment. So many trilogies fail to be consistently great, but this really pulled it off. So is it worth a read? It’s a fantastic read, and so is the whole trilogy. Go ahead and pick it up. You won’t regret it.
Overall Rating: A Wonderful Conclusion to a Great Trilogy
4 smoothies out of Four