This review will contain some spoilers for the first book in this series, The Bear and the Nightingale
For my next read, I decided to carry on with Katherine Arden's Russian folklore-inspired Winternight Trilogy, which I started earlier in the month. The Girl in the Tower is the second book in the series. I liked the first book, The Bear and the Nightingale, and I already owned the other two sequels, so I figured now was the best time to continue the story. I started my reading off hoping the enjoy this one a little bit more. One of the things I was hoping to see more of in this series was romance, and since Vasilisa is older in this installment, I thought that I might get my wish.
This novel picks up directly after the events of the previous book. Vasilisa, having saved her village from the bear demon, sets off on her own to escape the expectation of marriage and to explore the world. She disguises herself as a boy and travels on horseback through the Russian wilderness. She enjoys her explorations until she stumbles across a terrible situation. Villages are being burned down all throughout the countryside by a mysterious and unbeatable groups of bandits. Aside from torching everything, these bandits are murdering scores of townspeople and kidnapping young girls. Vasilisa feels called to try and help, and her involvement brings her all the way to a palace in Moscow, where she is plunged into another fantastical situation with a dangerous demon. This time however, court politics are in play, and Vasilisa must untangle the complex schemes and power plays in order to save the city.
I think I ended up liking The Girl in the Tower a little bit more than the first book in the series. There was a more romance in the storyline, and I thought that the plot moved along at a pretty good pace. While the story was still quite serious in tone, it didn't feel quite as heavy to me as the previous installment did, which I appreciated. I was consistently engaged in the story and I liked it enough to want to continue on with the final book, so overall, I had a good time with it.
I still didn't love this novel though, and much like with The Bear and the Nightingale, I was disappointed by that. It just didn't grab me on a deep level. I liked the story and I read the book pretty quickly, but that's all. I'm finding that I don't have much to share about it here. No big observations, compliments, or issues to explore. It's kind of rare for me to feel so uninspired to write about a book, but I can't force feelings I don't have. It makes me wonder what I'm missing though, because so many people absolutely love this series and rate it very highly. I'm just going to chalk that up to the old "not every book is for every reader" idea and move on.
In any case, I am glad to have read another book from my shelves. This one will join my donate pile along with its predecessor. I'm still going to read the final book in the trilogy to finish out the story. Who knows? Maybe I will feel more interested to write about that one.