The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
I’ve had nothing but praise for Katherine Arden's Winternight Trilogy thus far. The third and final book in the series, The Winter of the Witch, is no exception. Like the previous novel, this one picks up right where the second book left off, with Moscow reeling from the treachery of the Tatars. Dmitrii Ivanovich, Grand Prince of Russia, wants revenge for their betrayal, but some of his anger is misdirected. He believes the Tatars ransacked and set fire to his city, but only half of that is true. As the layers of deception are peeled back, the Grand Prince discovers a betrayal far worse in his eyes than that of the Tatars in the form of our heroine, Vasilisa Petrovna or Vasya, a witch who has deceived almost everyone around her by disguising herself as a man in order to insert herself into the narrative of her beloved homeland.
Looking back at this book and the series as a whole, I have to say that this final novel in the series was “more of the same.” More of the same intrigue, fascinating folklore, and superb writing. But as good as all of that is, The Winter of the Witch also takes things up a notch as befits a final chapter in the series. Vasya has matured greatly, both in terms of her personality and her magic. She has singlehandedly saved Moscow, yet cannot come forward as the city’s savior for fear of persecution as a witch. Also, she is currently on the run from the wicked priest, Konstantin, and Morozko’s evil brother, Medved. She has a lot to deal with, needless to say, and only herself to rely upon to triumph over evil and save her soul.
While it’s sad to see this series end, it’s also a satisfying ending to a rich and wonderful story. As I’ve said before, getting one ingredient of a story right isn’t too hard, but getting so many right so that you end up with a near perfect novel (not to mention series) is rare. This series may have come to a close, but I’ve no doubt the author will continue to intrigue with future novels. I will certainly have an eye out for whatever comes next for her.
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