I’m starting a new type of posts of my blogs! [and I’m very excited to finally share this first one with all of you!] I always struggled to write reviews for sequels – not many people are interested in reading a review for a 2nd, 3rd or 10th book in the series when they haven’t even started the series yet or aren’t caught up to the point where they can freely read the review and not being afraid of spoilers.
Besides, how much information is enough to convey my thoughts and not spoil the previous books?
For all of these reasons, I decided to only review the 1st books in series, unless the sequels are ARCs and will require my creativity to convey my emotions without spoilers. But I still wanted to talk about the book series I finish, so I thought it would be a good idea to give you 5 reasons why that particular series was good and force you all to read it! 😉
I’m also joining the Top Ten Tuesday meme today, currently curated by “That Artsy Reader Girl”, and today’s topic is Reasons why I love…, and my take on it will be 5 Reasons why I love the Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden!
1 – SLAVIC FOLKLORE!
“Will you tell her? asked the mare. “Everything?” the demon said. “Of bears and sorcerers, spells made of sapphire and a witch that lost her daughter? No, of course not. I shall tell her as little as possible. And hope that it is enough.”
If you are a big fan of Slavic folklore or books inspired by Slavic culture, this trilogy is the best one out there! Katherine Arden really did an impeccable job studying old folktales to the smallest details. I’ve never read a book written by a non-Russian (or non-Slavic) author that would have felt so authentic.
Slavic folktales are very dear to my heart, as these are the stories I grew up listening to. My very first children’s books were filled to the brim with the stories about Vasilisa the Beautiful and Tsarevich [Prince] Ivan. About Baba Yaga, Koschei the Deathless, and of course Morozko! No winter could have passed without me reading about Morozko or watching the cartoon and the movie adaptation of this folktale.
The third book in particular, really showed the diversity of demons, introducing and giving personality to various beings – Vodyanoy, Bannik, Lady Midnight, and, my favorite, Ded Grib [Grandfather Mushroom].
The different names might be confusing for someone who is not familiar with the demons’ names, but there is a handy Glossary at the end of each book, which to be frank, I’ve never had to use, but I imagine that it must be very helpful. 😀
2 – IT’S A FANTASY BUT ALSO A HISTORICAL FICTION.
“You shouldn’t have told them I was a girl. Then they might have believed that I was dangerous.”
Even though there is a great attention to the fantasy element – i.e. demons, witches and Vasya’s abilities to see these beings. Katherine Arden also made us focus on Rus’ in the early XII century, during the Turco-Mongol rule.
She shows us the Rus’ society and what is expected of women – to wed, bear children and look after the house. If you’re lucky you’ll wed good and live in abundance. Vasya, however, was never meant to lead this life. She is a wild and free spirit and needs no man to provide or care for her.
Throughout all three books, we saw how difficult it was for Vasya to carve her own place in life. How often she struggled to receive her family’s blessing for the choices she made, and even then they never really understood her, trying to force their ways and make her comply with the social norms.
The historical element doesn’t stop with the social standards of that time, Katherine Arden also introduced places that truly existed, events that truly took place and legendary people that truly ruled and fought for Rus’ and for the freedom of Russian people.
3 – FOLKLORE AND HISTORICAL FICTION ARE CLOSELY INTERTWINED WITH THE BATTLE BETWEEN PAGANISM AND RELIGION.
«It is not for men and women to presume what the Lord wishes.»
On this particular topic, I would also advise reading Author’s Noted to the final book. ❤ Katherine Arden explains there some of her choices about the historical events that she included in her books and also that constant battle between paganism and Christianity. And I really want to believe that she was right about it. That would make our world a tinge more magical. 🙂
The debate between paganism vs Christianity is constantly present in all three books of this series. In fact, there are some very interesting characters who represent both sides of this debate – some good, some bad and some neutral.
4 – VASYA MIGHT BE THE MAIN CHARACTER, BUT THERE WERE MANY MORE WHO ALSO STOLE MY HEART!
The first book focuses mostly on Vasya and I loved it for it. It was the introduction to an epic tale of adventure, conquests, and losses, and without it, I wouldn’t have gotten to know and love Vasya as much as I did. But the second and the third books expanded the world even further – we went from a small village in the cold woods, to the magnificent Moscow, and then to the world beyond.
«The Winter in the Witch» was one of my favorites in terms of character development. Vasya’s siblings received some well-deserved love and we saw what each of them was capable of. And Ded Grib is probably my favorite character of the entire series 😀
5 – THE MOST ATMOSPHERIC STORY ABOUT LOVE, FRIENDSHIP, AND BELIEF!
I will read anything Katherine Arden ever publishes! She doesn’t write stories. She has an ability to paint the pictures in your mind, creating the most beautiful, eerie and atmospheric tales of love, magic and belief!
Not all readers will love her writing style [although I honestly don’t know how could you not love it!], some say it’s too slow or it’s too flowery. But for me her writing was impeccable. I will miss this story, I will miss her beautiful descriptions and I will miss these characters so much!
The Winternight Chronicles is an incredible trilogy and will forever be one of my absolute favorite [if not THE favorite …*smile*]. I would love to know if you’ve started reading it or if you heard about if and wanted to give it a try. It might be best to wait until its cold outside to dive into this one though. 🙂
Let’s chat in the comments below! What do you think about this series? Have you read any other Katherine Arden books?