Katherine Arden does not disappoint with this second installment of her Winternight Trilogy. It seamlessly continues the story of Vasilisa as she strives to find a place for herself in a world that does not take kindly towards change and independence, despite its desire to forget the unfathomable traditions of the past. While this is a book where the charm of magic and pagan mystery tries to maintain a steadfast hold, it also does not shy away from the very personal issues of identity and belonging, as well as delve into the broader concerns of power, politics and duty.
I think that duty becomes one of the main conflicts within this story, as the characters begin attempting to reconcile their sensibilities and personal wishes with the eventual need to follow through with the tasks and responsibilities they are expected to fulfill. This holds true for both women and men, as the reader witnesses with both Vasya and her brother Sasha, as well as many of the other characters met over the course of the novel. The reader is also presented with the alternative, the individuals who have already had to assume their respective roles, forced to learn to adapt and derive a sense of pleasure from the various situations within their control.
There is a lot of truth presented in this book, and Arden does not attempt to provide simple answers to many of the questions and issues that arise. Magic can only go so far in supporting the natural order of things.
This is truly an excellent work, and I personally can’t wait for the next installment.
Copy provided by NetGalley