The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden (Book Review)
When I first began the Winternight Trilogy with The Bear and the Nightingale, I knew I had embarked on a journey so special, it would stay with me well after it concluded. Now that I’ve closed the final pages of The Winter of the Witch, I can easily say this has become one of my favorites of all time. Arden has created something beautifully magical with her debut series, urging readers to suspend their disbelief and find solace around a smoky campfire in a dark and snow-covered forest.
This is a tale of acceptance and finding comfort in one’s own skin. Of faith and loyalty. Of balance, respect, and the power of love. In it, Vasya must finally find her rightful place amidst the worlds of men and of those beyond, shunned by one for being different and not fully accepted by the other due to her ignorance. In her quest to bring these two together, she learns to believe in her true self and completely concedes to her wild abilities; her growth is truly stunning. Sacrifices are made, battles are fought, oaths are pledged, all in hopes of forging a world where humans and devils can live together in peace.
The final book is a bit darker with brutality we have yet to witness in the series. A mob-fueled burning, torture, war, death. But while these shadows fall over ‘Rus, the midnight moon remains bright, bearing hope to both man and chyerti alike. This story is charming and mystical, but also tragic and heart-wrenching, much like the harmony between life and death, which is a paramount concept throughout.
“What will you say to the God you despise,” Vasya whispered, breathing short and thin with fear, “when you go into the darkness? All men must die.”
Arden’s prose is exquisite and poetic, carefully breathing life into the lands of myth, making them breathtaking and completely tangible. The characters she has given voice to are as alluring and diverse as the seasons they hail from. The romance is subtle, but as dazzling as the stars on a clear winter night. Finishing this series has been bittersweet for me, as I wish I could lose myself in this world for just a bit longer, but its ending is completely satisfying. If you’ve had any doubt as to whether you should dive into this adventure, I highly recommend you give it a try. I’m really excited and looking forward to seeing where Arden transports us in the future.