The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden, review by Shelly Walston
Arden's use of Baba Yaga lore and Russian history weave together masterfully to develop the story in her follow-up to The Bear and the Nightingale.
After leaving her home of Lesnaya Zemlya, Vasya decides she will be a traveler. Aided by the mysterious Winter King, she gains strength and fighting skill, while also realizing she must mask her femininity to travel safely along the roads of 'Rus. Her trusty and other-worldly steed Solovey is her sole companion. But when villages start burning and young girls are captured, Vasya realizes she cannot amble on her way; she must help others.
Added to this installment is the Prince of Moscow, a head-strong, impulsive leader who quests for glory and notoriety. When news of the burning and captivity reaches him, the Prince calls on his warrior monk Sasha (Vasya's brother) to help him find the perpetrators. In twists and turns magnificent, Sasha and Vasya are reunited, and Sasha must hide Vasya's womanhood in order to save her dignity and his own neck.
When Vasya winds her way to Moscow as the Prince of Moscow's newest, most prized warrior (Vasilii the Brave), she finds that city life is as mysterious, layered, and dangerous as anything she feared in the forest. She also meets her niece Masha, who is blessed (or cursed) with the gift of seeing domovoi; in Masha, Vasya sees herself.
The Girl in Tower builds on the lore Arden began with her first book, and Vasya remains ever the strong-willed young woman. This is a sequel you won't want to miss.