The Winter of the Witch

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

A stunning book that makes one believe in magic and the power of women! I loved Vasya as a person - her selfishness and ambitious streaks. Personalities that we believe are unbecoming of women. I loved her as a witch - her resourcefulness and belief. 

The Winter of the Witch is a stunning book that pits conflicted themes against each other to build a thoughtful story on how limiting culture causes lies to fester.
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Wow, what an emotional experience! There were so many feels in The Winter of the Witch. Two sections especially that actually made me cry, which is very rare for me. I strenuously avoid books that I think might make me cry. But I had to know how Vasya and Morozko’s (and Solovey’s) story ended, so I kept reading. Tears were streaming down my face at one point, but I kept reading. The story is that compelling. Also intense.

There were so many things I appreciated about this third and final installment in the Winternight trilogy. I loved that we got extra time with Sasha. I loved that we got more information about Vasya and Sasha’s ancestors (and I agree with a friend who would love a prequel novel that explores the great great grandmother’s origin story). I liked seeing more clearly how magic worked in their world, and learning more about the magic lands and the beautiful horse/ birds. I loved seeing Vasya and Morozko’s relationship mature. But I especially loved seeing Vasya come into her own, to find her identity and role as a woman and a descendant of witches and a witch herself. To find what she alone could do to help both the worlds she loved, and to do it whether others approved or not.

Things I didn’t love, aside from all the sad feels? There were some pretty brutal parts. Not so much that it’s gruesomely described, but there’s enough detail to have a very unpleasant visual, especially of all the dark sides of city life in that era–disease, mob violence, etc. These aren’t things that reflect poorly on the writing or the book itself. I’m just a lightweight, and didn’t love them, well-written and essential to the story though they were. Also, Vasya was impetuous and made a lot of emotional decisions on impulse. I don’t love this behavior in characters, but it was very consistently in character for the chaotic yet strong beauty that was Vasilisa Petrovna.

Despite all the tears, I think the story was just as it should be. Through all the painful and wonderful twists and turns, I think it was the best possible culmination of the various story threads, and the right resolution for each of the primary characters. I may be curious to know more about Vasya’s family past and present, and the magical world, but otherwise I’m left satisfied. Satisfied in the fierce, beautiful woman Vasya becomes, and the way she carves a place for herself in a world that has resisted her at every step.

Should you read this? Yes, definitely, if you don’t mind all the feels, and you can appreciate a stellar fantasy novel. But only after reading the first two books. I’m not sure that this book could stand alone, and even if it could, you would lose out on much of the emotion of the story line. This is a story that, like the Harry Potter books, has built slowly, over the three books, intricately weaving in various elements and characters, building to a crescendo of feelings and destiny, and as a result creating a beautiful story mosaic that would do iconographers proud.

Thank you to Netgalley for letting me read an advanced copy of this story, even though I didn’t get it finished before publication date.
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What can I say besides thank you?

Thank you to Katherine Arden for bringing my childhood fairytales to life in this beautiful series. Thank you for representing my culture with respect and love. Thank you for bringing this series to the world. It made me nostalgic and made me miss my home country. And it made me remember all the magic of fairytales and the strength of Russian magic. 

The Winternight trilogy is beautiful. I was jaded and untrusting at first, but Arden pulled me in and earned my respect and made me fall in love with her writing, with her characters, and with the fairytales again. 

The setting is vast and magical, the writing is lyrical, the story spellbinding. Vasilisa has my heart and my allegiance. This girl, this brave, magical girl who refused to let fear temper her spirit, bind her magic, and erase all the best parts of her. She fought and she won for herself, for her family, and for Rus. 

I cannot recommend this series highly enough. 

TW: for threats of rape, forced kissing, sexism
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ok. this one is really hard to rate. i really liked the bear and the nightingale, but struggled with the second book, mainly because it had been like a year since i'd read the first one.. and now this one, another year later. my memory is awful and this series has so many different characters and creatures and different names for things that i just couldn't keep them all separate, couldn't remember them all. on one hand, i wish i had known the bear and the nightingale was going to be a series so i could have waited for them to be all out, my memory does a lot better when the books are closer together...  but on the other hand, 3 years ago my taste in books was completely different to what it is now. if all 3 books were out now (well, they are but you know what i mean), i wouldn't be as quick to pick them up. so what i'm saying is, i wish they were all out 3 years ago ;)

my favourite part of this book - this series - is the winter king, the love story. so i wish he was in it a bit more.

i did like this one more than the second one, it was easier to read and flowed just a bit better. but i still struggled because it would change POVs to people i didn't care about, or because i would struggle to remember which character/creature was which. but at times, it was delightful and magical so it was worth it.. i just wish those parts were more often than the confusing parts (but again, that's just me and my memory).

i was very very very sad about a death and totally spoiled it for myself early on that everything would be okay because i just couldn't handle that sorry not sorry #noregerts.
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The Winter of the Witch confirms Katherine Arden's status as one of the best fantasy authors to emerge in the past few years. It's a brilliant and wonderfully written conclusion to her trilogy and to Vasilisa's journey. And what a journey it's been and how this book broke me and put me back together again! Simply amazing.
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I immediately fell in love with Katherine Arden's magical storytelling skills when I read The Bear and the Nightingale two years ago. The Girl in the Tower last year was also excellent, but it didn't move me the way the first book had. This one definitely moved me! I cried at least twice, and I was so sad to get to the end because I would happily read three more books about Vasya and the chyerti. A strong final book for this gorgeous trilogy.
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I really liked the first two books in this series, but I absolutely loved the conclusion.  What I loved the most is that you understand the tough choices the characters need to make, and understand their motivation for making those decisions.  There's no right or wrong answer for most of these situations, but different opinions on what is best for themselves or the people they feel responsible for, and it's just great.  The emotional moments hit hard (I cried just a little bit...twice, one of which was on a plane and a little awkward) and I think that the ending is just so satisfactory.  

I really can't wait to see what else Arden comes out with!
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I tend to find that series finales disappoint me to some degree – I mean, I hype these books up in my head and spend time thinking up possible endings. The Winter of the Witch was actually a VERY satisfying conclusion to Vasilisa Petrovna’s story and had a nice balance between melancholy and triumph.

At the end of The Girl in the Tower Moscow was set ablaze and it was partially Vasya’s doing. The events catch up with her and results in that possessed priest at the head of a mob hungry for blood and vengeance. Have I ever mentioned how much I can’t stand that character? He’s just awful! Vasya escapes into the land of Midnight and she slowly morphs INTO HER FINAL FORM. Nah, not quite that dramatic, but she eventually becomes who she’s always meant to be – a bridge between human and chyerti. I loved Vasya and her fierce bravery and the powerful beings like Morozko, Medved, and Polunochnitsa that swirl through her life. There’s an interesting give and take relationship between them that makes things feel balanced rather than the power being skewed to one side or the other.

This installment had some serious moments of sadness that were written so well – absolute jabs to heart. The setting was, as always, magical and memorable. I particularly like when Vasya travelled through Midnight – the idea that this realm was each and every midnight that every existed or would exist was like, the pinnacle of fairytale coolness. Oh, and if you fell asleep in a midnight that wasn’t yours, you wouldn’t be able to return home again. Plus there were mushroom-men, river spirits, and even the undead upyry (Russian vampires).

I loved The Winter of the Witch, though honestly I’m not sure which of the three books ended up being my favorite. I would say this one, but I think that’s just because it’s the one I read last. All three books in the trilogy were so well written and feel like the perfect books to be read aloud on a cold, firelight filled winter night. Katherine Arden has really written something special that could be our next modern classic.
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This was an excellent conclusion to the series. Vasilisa Petrova matures over the series from an adventurous young girl in book one, to a headstrong young woman who fights for her family and her country in book three. Book three brings us back into the chaos that ended book two and it introduces us to some interesting new characters and brings back some favorite characters we've already met. The story still centers on the Vasya, with layers of Russian folklore wrapped around some Russian history. It was exciting and magical, and I loved every minute.
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Vivid, magical and EPIC!! That was the best way to end this most amazing trilogy. My heart was racing all throughout this entire book.

Vasya is determined to save her country by uniting them and showing them that there is way to be together and allow everyone their own religious freedoms. When we thought she was strong in the previous books, this is nothing compared to those.

She lives up to the prophecy. She makes allies with those who wouldn’t normally work together. As it’s said in the book, she’s a bridge between men and chyerti. The magic is failing as those stop believing in spirits. I loved watching her. She has the power to change things and she does.

No spoilers but this book was probably 10 times as exciting as the first two books. I couldn’t put it down. As I type this out, I’m awaiting Urania’s excited reactions. It’s her influence that gave me the nudge to dive into these books. I owe her.

There is a smidgen more of romance in this one but it’s very much on the back burner. I actually find myself not even looking for it. It’s just a bonus. But love, familial or romantic, is definitely a strong motivator to get things accomplished. But I will say that I’ve had my eye on Morozko since the first book and I’m happy to see him live up to my expectations.

“Love is for those who know the griefs of time, for it goes hand in hand with loss. An eternity, so burdened, would be a torment.”

Let the book hangover begin…
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Okay, I’m going to be honest: I found an unexpected gem in Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy. I thought I’ve sworn myself off of Young Adult fantasy adventures, but this series completely caught me off guard.

Book one, The Bear and the Nightingale was unlike anything I’ve ever read. I was pleasantly surprised by the lyrical prose, the way Arden told the story like how a fairy tale should sound.

Book two, The Girl In The Tower, found me wanting more of Vasya, the Winter King and Arden’s rich world-building.

The final book of the series, The Winter of the Witch, was the perfect end to this sweeping series.
Vasya, bless her impulsive soul, is caught between two wars— the impending battle between Rus and the advancing Horde, and the unseen clash between the Winter King and his evil twin, Medved.

She faces impossible choices, is pushed against the proverbial wall and is assailed from all sides. Just the way I like it.

The Winter of the Witch still contains Arden’s lyrical prose, but it’s less of a fairy tale and more of a coming-of-age story. No more afternoons in the woods for little Vasya, here. Arden’s imagined Rus’ is now darker, colder and with sharper teeth. This final installment starts out harsh, and it keeps this pace all throughout the book. There were times where I felt physically and emotionally exhausted for Vasya. The girl was dead on her feet for most of the book, but I loved how she just kept soldiering on.

A lot of character development happens in The Winter of The Witch, and I appreciate how much Vasya’s character grew, for better or for worse. She entertained, awed and annoyed me in equal measure.

Her relationship with Morozko is far from what you’d call ‘romantic’, but their dynamic works, nonetheless.

The book also delves deeper into the Russian folklore and Vasya’s heritage, which I enjoyed.

I have to admit that there were some parts where the pacing felt rather off and anti-climactic, but all loose strings were neatly tied in the end.

Overall, the Winter of the Witch was a satisfying end to this trilogy. The Bear and the Nightingale will always be my favorite among all three, but this one is a strong contender.

4.5 stars. 🙂
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Loved it as much as the first two books.  Taking fairy tales and making them new and exciting.  Hope she keeps writing.
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I loved this book, as well as the first two books in this trilogy.  Having no prior knowledge of Russian fairytales, I found this book mesmerizing.  The descriptions of the magical lands, chyerty, and the cold Russian winter,  put me in the middle of the action.  The story moved seamlessly between Moscow and a fantasy world with the heroine, Vasya, a powerful ‘Katniss Everdeen’ with magical abilities, leading the way.  The only thing I would change would be the lengthy description of the battle.  I was much more interested in the intervention by the chyerty and the outcome of the battle, than the battle itself.  I’m sorry to see the story end, I want to know what happens next!
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I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have read the first two books in this series and loved them. For me, this series has been so interesting, different and refreshing, and I have thoroughly enjoyed each book. Also, I don't know who designed the covers for this trilogy, but they have been GORGEOUS. They really draw the reader to the book and represent each book's story so well.  I found this book a bit easier to jump back into than the last, though it does still take a good amount of additional concentration compared to some of the other novels I've read recently. There are just so many characters to keep track of and they're all called multiple names/nicknames throughout the book. It can be daunting to keep track of at times, but it's definitely do-able. This book could possibly be classified as "wordy" - to be honest if it were any other book I would probably say it is - but with this book I found each word to be so necessary to the magic of the story, and I found myself going back over the pages because I didn't want to miss a single word. The author uses intense descriptions to draw the reader into the story and trap them in this Russian world of magic and wonder. And the narratives surrounding the fight scenes were so good that I felt like I was there, watching the sweat drip from the warriors' faces. 

This book really made the reader question the idea of right vs wrong and good vs evil. I love when books make us reevaluate our ideas of morality, and I thought this was a very interesting sub-layer to the story. One of my favorite quotes in the book was "monsters were for children," as Vasya learns that the truth is more complicated than simply being able to pick a side and call it the "right" side or the "good" side. All of us have the potential for goodness inside of us and all of us have the ability to make a difference in the world, even in unorthodox ways. I just loved delving into this concept within the story line amidst all of the action and magic that the book brought to life for me. I highly recommend reading this series and I can't wait to see what this author comes up with next!
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The language in this books is very poetic and beautiful. I wasn't a huge fan of The Girl in the Tower, but the second book caught my attention more, and this third book solidified the series. It's a fulfilling conclusion.
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You know when you love a series and each book is better than the last and then the final book comes out and it’s impossibly perfect and you’re filled with a sense of completion and satisfaction and yes, a little bit of sadness it’s over, but mostly you’re in awe of your reading experience? Well, now you know how I feel about The Winter Of The Witch and the Winternight Trilogy.

Winter Of The Witch picks up where Girl In The Tower left off and it’s pretty much off to the races from the start. This book was INTENSE, in a good way, even if some parts made me very nervous. 

This was action-packed and just when one arc would resolve, I’d realize there was more to come. But it was always in service of the plot and the characters. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!

Arden explored the theme of belonging in some really interesting ways. Morozco is winter—he is the Frost Demon, after all—and it is basically impossible for him to be with Vasya in other seasons. Vasya does not want to be reduced to a wife: she doesn’t want to belong to a man in their patriarchal world. Then there are the familial relationships between Vasya and her siblings and aunt and the ways they work in tandem and apart. I also really enjoyed all of the symbolism at play.

When I consider the whole of this trilogy, I marvel over where Vasya was when we started and where she winds up in the end. She’s grown in big ways but the heart of her character is the same. She sees herself as an agent of chaos, like Medved, only she’s trying to help people when trouble ensues, whereas he delights in wreaking havoc. 

One of Vasya’s tasks is to recognize her monstrous sides without giving in to those impulses and saying connected to the light and to her family. Winter Of The Witch blurs the lines of good and evil, as we also see other sides of both the Frost Demon and the Bear. 

Vasya does not belong to Morozco or Medved. This makes her powerful in her own right and I loved watching her really come in to her own. She’s her own person with her own wants and desires and she’s not there to take sides. She is their very literal balance. Or as she says, “born to be in between.” The way this came together was magnificent. 

Lastly, there's Vasya and Morozco's relationship. Look. I don't know how many times I have to say it but if being in love with a Frost Demon is wrong, I don't want to be right. As such, I absolutely loved the new developments in their relationship and where things stood between them.

This was such a fitting end to the trilogy and cements the Winternight trilogy as one of my favorites. Highly recommended.

CW: death of a horse (this was hard to read but it does get a good resolution, trust me), violence, mob violence, threatened rape, war
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…a stellar conclusion to the epic Winternight Trilogy! 

It’s no secret I’m a fan (don’t let the four stars fool you as I rarely give five) and Katherine Arden and her characters, especially Vasya and Morozov, did not disappoint. This, the third and concluding, entry in the series was a dark and dangerous roller coaster ride that I could barely put down until the last page.  

The Winter of the Witch picks up where 
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This is the last part of the trilogy, and I enjoyed it very much, too. This time, it is Vasilisa and the demons again, but the happenings in the book are tied more to the historical events than to the folklore. Vasilisa and the demons are helping with the war effort against the Tatars. 
There is a lot of action, and it reads fast. The language is beautiful, and I enjoyed the book a lot.

I received a free digital copy of the book from NetGalley
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A rich and satisfying conclusion to an enchanting series. I was delighted to ride along with Vasya’s adventure one more time.
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I have loved this whole series, and the Winter of the Witch is a fitting conclusion.  Full of magic, wonder, demons, Russian folklore and history, medieval Russia is brought to life.  Some sections are a little slow paced, but Vasya's world of sorrow, triumphs, magic and love is a world I am going to miss.  And I'll always see Winter through a different eye, now.  Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House - Ballantine / Del Rey for the e-arc. Highly recommend!  4.5 stars!
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