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The Winternight Trilogy #3

The Winter of the Witch

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2019)
Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

Advance praise for The Winter of the Witch

“Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy isn’t just good—it’s hug-to-your-chest, straight-to-the-favorites-shelf, reread-immediately good, and each book just gets better. The Winter of the Witch plunges us back to fourteenth-century Moscow, where old gods and new vie for the soul of Russia and fate rests on a witch girl’s slender shoulders. Prepare to have your heart ripped out, loaned back to you full of snow and magic, and ripped out some more.”—Laini Taylor

384 pages, ebook

First published January 8, 2019

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About the author

Katherine Arden

16 books14k followers
A note to everyone who trips and falls upon my Goodreads page. First, welcome. Let us read and discuss all the books together. I review books I've read, everything gets five stars, if I didn't like it I don't put it up.

Second, Goodreads is wondrous, but contacting me through my Goodreads DMs is a good way to ensure a long wait for a reply. Your best bet is Twitter or Instagram (arden_katherine) on both.

Happy reading.

Born in Texas, Katherine studied French and Russian at Middlebury College. She has lived abroad in France and in Moscow, among other places. She has also lived in Hawaii, where she wrote much of The Bear and the Nightingale. She currently lives in Vermont.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,114 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews152k followers
August 14, 2022
The experience of reading the last book of a beloved series is always a bittersweet one. Through three books, and years upon years of magic and fear and family and growth, this story burrowed deep into my heart. After the wonder of retreating into so real-seeming a dream, I now feel such an obscure sense of loss, a sudden absence creating space for the too bright world to rush into. I know already this will not be the last time I read these books. I will return to them again and again, drawn by a wistful longing for a life I never had, wracked by nostalgia for a time I did not experience, and eager to hold these characters' hands once again.

The Winter of the Witch is everything you want out of a Winternight novel, and a perfect conclusion to a triumph of a series besides. My experience of reading it was of wanting to discuss every paragraph I consumed, to linger over language that both strikes and caresses, and marvel at how Arden manages to tease new exciting depths from characters I thought I already knew so well. Every page was such an absolute, and I missed this book even as I was reading it.

In The Winter of the Witch, Arden puts the characters at a crossroads, where they stand facing each other; enemies who hold the answer to each other’s hurts and fears and longings. The reader gets such a palpable sense of the colliding emotions on both opposite sides, and with every page, our understanding of the characters sharpens, deepens, filtering in slowly and then all at once. Vasya’s character, in particular, is a masterclass in successful character development. The years that stretch between the first novel and this one feel so long and far away, like stories someone else had told of Vasya, half-remembered and unreal. Reading The Winter of the Witch, I felt the sting of nostalgia for the savage exuberance of the child Vasya used to be early in this series: the little girl who attacked the world before it attacked her, who loved it and longed for it and wanted to see it at all cost, before she learned the power of fear, before life had sapped her innocence and brought on a weary anger, before she discovered that the world was a dangerous place for a woman it wanted dead. That nostalgia, however, is soon yanked back by the present Vasya, who is chasing the marvelous doom that is freedom to the world’s end, whose heart looks upon life and death and all the things in between without faltering, the fighter who refuses to die, not when there is so much ground Vasya had never felt under her feet, not when there is the whole world, with its wonders still unseen. I just love Vasya so much. Few characters manage to be so indelibly memorable, and Vasya is definitely one of them.

Consistent in this novel, also, is the way Arden insists on Vasya’s agency without disallowing her the space and opportunity to experience and navigate first love, vulnerability, romance and intimacy. Instead of avoiding or undermining the unbalanced nature of the power dynamics between Vasya and Morozko, Arden throws that unbalance into sharp relief. Morozko wants to protect Vasya from the world, even (perhaps especially) the part of it that he represents, but Vasya is clear that she does not need coddling, that they are both past the line where his power might be able to help her. Invoking Medved, Morozko's brother, who wants to use Vasya's powers like a lighthouse lens that amplifies the intensity of his own gifts, Vasya implies that subordination to Medved is no different than unthinking deference to Morozko, no matter how different their intentions are: “If I am mad, I will not be yours. And dead I will not be his.” Vasya's refusal to be beholden to anyone's will, be it an ally or an enemy, is a vibrant thread throughout this series. But just as consistent (and constant) is Vasya's longing to belong. The two, insists the novel, are not mutually incompatible. I loved Vasya and Morozko’s relationship. My wizened, hardened heart fractured at the knowledge that they are each other’s person, a safe place for each of them to land. I waited two books and a half for the stolen fugitive moments they shared in shadowed places, where they were free to kiss and touch and drown and live and burn. Chapter 17, in particular, had me aahh-ing and ooh-ing and sending texts in all caps to a dear friend. I was LIVING.

“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. And yet—” He broke off, drew breath. “Yet what else to call it, this terror and this joy?”

All in all, this is the best book I read this year. Hands down. I can't wait to read it again.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,944 reviews292k followers
March 6, 2019
“Beware the forest,” she added, following Vasya to the door. “It does not take kindly to strangers.”

It's over 😔. But it was most definitely a beautiful and fitting ending.

I've owned this book since it released on January 8, but I've been reluctant to start it. Partly because it was the final book, and partly because I was worried it wouldn't be as good as I'd been hoping it would be. But Arden didn't let me down. This finale was every bit as gorgeous and magical as the first two books.

My reviews for this series are starting to feel repetitive at this point, but I absolutely have to talk about the atmosphere. For me, it's what makes this trilogy so wonderful. The Winter of the Witch follows its predecessors by being a book of quiet whispers and cold breezes. It's that timeless fairy tale quality that I love so much.

But don't get me wrong-- there's plenty of action, too. In fact, this book starts pretty much in the thick of it with Vasya being chased down by the followers of the nefarious priest Konstantin. With Medved causing havoc left and right, and Vasya venturing into beautifully-imagined supernatural realms, this could be the most action-packed book of the series.

One of the things I like most about these books - and this one in particular - is how much Vasya grows as a character. I think it is one of the most interesting and convincing character arcs I've ever read about. She ages and gains hard-earned wisdom so naturally over the course of the three novels, and I feel strangely like I've grown up with her after following her story for the last few years.

As always, the fantastical is weaved in with the historical. Much is based on real historical events - such as the rapidly approaching Battle of Kulikovo - but, of course, a lot has been embellished too. I'm at least fairly certain that the frost demon Morozko wasn't falling into a complicated romance with a woman called Vasya in 14th century Russia, more's the pity.

Also: apparently frost demons are sexy. Who knew?

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Profile Image for Melanie.
1,158 reviews97.9k followers
January 1, 2020

ARC given to me by my amazingly kind friend, who I don't deserve, but who has made my entire year - Lilly at Lair of Books!

1.) The Bear and the Nightingale ★★★★★
2.) The Girl in the Tower ★★★★★

“I have plucked snowdrops at Midwinter, died at my own choosing, and wept for a nightingale. Now I am beyond prophecy.”

This is a hard review for me to write, because I think my heart doesn’t want to admit that this series is finally over. But it is, and this concluding book was everything I wanted. I cried, I felt gutted, I got my heart broken, but somehow Katherine Arden healed the pieces back together.

Where do I even begin to tell you what this story is about without spoiling anything with a review about the final book. This is a book about the bonds of family, blood and found, and doing whatever it takes to protect the ones you love. This is a book about religion and the beautiful and terrible things people are willing to do in the name of it. This is a book about all the different pieces that make a person, and how it is okay to love them all even if others won’t. But this is ultimately a book about a girl becoming the hero of her own story every single time, no matter who or what tries to block her path.

“There are no monsters in the world, and no saints. Only infinite shades woven into the same tapestry, light and dark.”

But I suppose The Bear and the Nightingale is a Russian inspired fantasy that stars a family living on the edge of the unforgiving Russian wilderness. And our main character grew up on fairy tales, but always hungered for more. And she soon realizes that maybe there was some truth in those tales, and she encounters a frost-demon named Morozko who makes magic a reality before her very eyes.

This story picks up right after the events of The Girl in the Tower in Moscow, and Konstantin Nikonvich’s vengeance knows no bounds. And a bear demon named Medved is happy to aid with the chaos in any way they possibly can. We also get to see Marya, Olga, Sasha, and Dmitrii on very different journeys through this pain and heartbreak. But we also get to see Vasya learn new things about herself and her ancestors, while even venturing into a new land unlike any other. And I truly think this concluding novel was damn close to perfection.

“You denied both the winter-king and his brother, didn’t you? You made yourself a third power in their war.”

Following Vasya, seeing her go to battle for Russia, go to battle for her family, go to battle for herself, has been a journey like none other that I’ve ever experienced while reading. Katherine Arden pulls from a lot of historical events and themes, but I’m convinced that this equal parts harrowing and heartening fairytale that she crafted is the real timeline that happened. I’ll be completely honest, this is a hard review to write, and not because it’s the last book in a series, but because I am in awe of what a damn masterpiece this entire story is. It doesn't even feel real that I have this story in my hands, that I get to read it, I get to love it, I get to experience this beautiful tale that feels so whimsical but so real. The actual blessings.

“Magic is forgetting the world was ever other than as you willed it.”

Overall, this is just one of my favorite trilogies of all time, and I think it always will be. This story just truly has every element that I’m in love with in literature; lyrical writing, winter setting, fae folks of all varieties, strong sibling bonds, heart wrenching romance, and girls becoming the hero of their story. Katherine Arden and this trilogy is a gift from a higher power and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for talk of death during childbirth, graphic animal death, graphic torture, graphic violence, sexual assault (unwanted touching), threat of rape, death, murder, blood depictions, slavery, captivity, and war themes.

Buddy read with Sissi, Lily, Hanaa, & Lilly! ❤
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews154k followers
May 14, 2021

She bent forward to breathe into his ear: "Never give me orders."

"Command me, then," he whispered back. The words went through her like wine.
Moscow is beset with danger and Vasya has only made it worse.

Her betrayal of the crown prince is still rocking the country, and there are many waiting in the wings to take advantage.

And yet, in many ways, her life has become so much more than what it was.
“I am a witch,” said Vasya. Blood was running down her hand now, spoiling her grip. “I have plucked snowdrops at Midwinter, died at my own choosing, and wept for a nightingale. Now I am beyond prophecy.”
The Grand Prince - through his rage - has been manipulated onto a path that surely would bring the end to an era.

A demon who delights in chaos has set his sights on Vasya's beloved Moscow.
Magic makes men mad. They forget what is real because too much is possible.
A priest whose beautiful exterior hides a rotten core has almost completed his vendetta against Vasya.

And Vasya - the obstinate headstrong girl - must balance the two worlds.

The Modern Era and the Old World are crashing into each other and it appears as if only one will survive.

Will Vasya save her human family or the wondrous (and terrifying) Russian spirits? Will she even be able to save herself?

A truly satisfying end to a splendid series.

I am just in love with the beauty of this series. So many times I would reread passages to experience the joy, excitement and wonder.

I especially loved Vasya's development throughout the series. Maybe it's just me, but I've gotten used to the "YA-heroine development" aka we start off meek and mild...then 2.5 chapters later the main character becomes a complete badass.

I loved how Vasya has always had that underlying spunk, but that has changed from a little spark to an inferno to a comfortable fireplace.

The way her character changed throughout the books was so well done - I cannot remember when the changes happened, only that the girl we started the series with is certainly not the same one we have at the end.

Also, as a side note, I am really feeling the magic in the series. It has an ethereal quality to it that I really can't put my finger on.
Magic is forgetting the world was ever other than as you willed it.
I like how the magic system was never completely laid out - it's mysterious and unpredictable - and it worked perfectly in Arden's world.

I loved all of the little spirits - especially the ornery little mushroom spirit Vasya befriends.
The mushroom-spirit was suddenly fierce. "He is not to kick over any of my mushrooms."

"That depends," said the Bear pointedly. "If my brave mistress does not give me something better to do than run to and fro in the dark, I will happily kick over all your mushrooms.”
And the plot! It's hard to explain the feeling I get when I read one of these books but the best way I could describe it is...this is a not a story but a journey.

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Profile Image for kath.
78 reviews268 followers
May 10, 2020
You know that feeling when you find a book that speaks to some deep part of your soul and you just want to shout:

THIS is why I read.

This wintery trilogy has become exactly that for me - reminding me of all the reasons why I love literature.

It’s not a secret that I loved the first two books in this magical trilogy with the burning fire of a thousand suns. So you can imagine how much I needed this book in my hands, and also how stressful a thing it is to embark into the last book of a series that has settled so deeply into ones bones.

But my friends, it was utter perfection from the first page until the last and I may go so far as to say it could be the strongest book of the three.

The story picks up seamlessly where The Girl in the Tower ended and right out of the gate we are put through some very harrowing scenes. Goodness, they put me through a lot of anxiety. The stakes are so much higher this time around and from those first moments onward I could not look away - the story barrels onward at a relentless pace. And now we finally see the full scope that Arden intended. The culmination of everything she was building towards in the perfectly paced slow burn of The Bear and the Nightingale, and the riotous action of The Girl in the Tower. It feels seamless how it has all come together and I’m just so giddy with delight.

Our girl, Vasya, is no longer a just a plucky, naive child. From the ashes of the Moscow fire she has risen into a woman with incredible new strength in more ways than one. But of course she remains wonderfully flawed - her character has even more dimension than ever. Arden has shown how much she really knows her characters because they have truly carried this story and made it heart-wrenching in all the best ways. She can make you feel for even the most minor supporting characters with just a few lines.

I think Studio Ghibli fans will appreciate the whimsical details in this one. We’ve been blessed with magical midnight roads, loveable mushroom spirits (hello new favourite sidekick character). It really is a fairytale written for grownups. And yet this tale will bring out the childlike wonder in even the most grown up of grownups. It’s delightfully subversive too- it upends the age old tropes of princes winning maidens, of monsters being slain. So many mischievous plot twists I did NOT expect.

I was also not prepared at all for these f e e l i n g s. I am still filled to the brim with them. This book broke me, then slowly pieced me back together until I wept with triumphant glee at the very end. And there is a certain PART that made me all asdkjfkslsjfks. You’ll know it when you get there. Aheeeem.

I gave this book a big, loving, emotionally exhausted hug when it was over. The ending was perfect and that is a rare thing so it probably shouldn’t be tampered with. BUT. I love these characters so damn much, my heart is crying for more more more of their adventures.

And that’s it. I can now wholeheartedly say: this, this is my favourite trilogy of all time. If I could persuade you to read one thing, let this be it. You may just love it as much as I do.

{ARC gifted by the author}
Profile Image for Elena May.
Author 6 books686 followers
February 9, 2020
I learned an important life lesson from this trilogy: If a fanatic priest ever comes to your home causing trouble, and a cannibalistic lake spirit helpfully offers to eat him, JUST LET HER DO IT!

I still remember reading The Bear and the Nightingale and reaching the part where the rusalka nicely offers to eat Konstantin and Vasya stops her. I was screaming at Vasya to just step aside and let her do it. And then, as Konstantin’s future actions lead to so much suffering and so many lives lost, I kept thinking how it would have been the right decision. Then comes The Girl in the Tower, he causes even more trouble, and I grow even madder than he didn’t find his final resting place in a rusalka’s stomach years ago. And then comes this book, and my hatred for him manages to grow even more.

But this is only of testament of the strong writing and characters. The book is pure magic, whimsical and atmospheric, and it perfectly captures the spirit of the original fairy tales.

This is going to be a very weird review. While this is one of the best books I have read in the past couple of years, I think I’ll spend half the review criticizing things I didn’t like (and then I’ll spend the other half talking about mushrooms, but I’ll get to that later).

But perhaps that’s not too weird. Usually, the more I like a book, the more I complain about things that could have been better. Seriously, I challenge you to look through my 5-star reviews and find one where I don’t complain about anything. In fact, you are more likely to find 3-star reviews where I have nothing bad to say.

I’ll try to keep spoilers vague, but you’ll understand better what I mean if you’ve read the book.


Things I didn’t like:

1. The way Vasya returns Morozko’s memories

It felt clichéd. What is this, an upgraded version of a First Love’s Kiss from Once Upon a Time? I thought it would have been more fitting to use a more mystical method, perhaps using the nightingale talisman. And then Olga takes one look at Vasya and figures out what happened, explaining “credit me with some perception, I’ve seen enough girls wed.” Hmm, and what is “a girl wed” supposed to look like? Have a big glowing letter on her forehead? And Olga’s next question is if Vasya was willing. So she somehow figures out what happened, but not if Vasya is happy or unhappy about it. It makes no sense to me.

2. Dehumanization of the Tatars

Yes, they were invaders and did terrible things. But, considering how badly Tatars are treated in Russia nowadays (I have friends who have been horribly harassed by authorities, police, and random people, it’s not pleasant) I feel it’s the wrong time to have a very high profile book where the Tatars are less human than the literal demons. We see only two named characters, and none of them has any personality. And all the others are a faceless horde. When Vasya is presented to a tent of Tatars, the single Russian person is the only one who shows her compassion. I’m not saying make the Tatars good guys. By all means, make them bad. But make them complex bad, with personality, and motivations, and quirks. Make them human.

Even the Bear, who conspires to destroy all humans and causes fear, sickness and chaos, is given a lot more character development. His motivations are clear, he is given charm and humor, and he even gets some redeeming qualities in his twisted love for Konstantin. And Midnight, who causes a lot of pain, is a sympathetic character. Only the Tatars remain completely faceless and interchangeable, and it makes an otherwise great book suffer for it.

3. Timelines and ages

That’s pretty minor, but it’s been bugging me. Everyone who hears about Vasya’s great-grandmother is first shocked and then immediately says there’s no way she could still be alive, and she must surely be dead. But… why? Vasya is 17. One of my great-grandmothers lived until I was 21, and at Vasya’s time, women were having children younger, so it was not uncommon to have great-grandparents, or even great-great-grandparents around. Sure, Vasya is not the first child in the family and her mother was a bit older when she had her, and I’m not saying it’s likely, but I’m saying it’s not as absolutely impossible as everyone in the book claims.

And before anyone says, “But it’s the Middle Ages, average life expectance was 30!”—that’s not how it works. As I also mentioned in my review of The Bear and the Nightingale where the description of characters’ ages was bugging me for a different reason, average expectancy of 30 doesn’t mean people dropped dead at 30. It means an extremely high child mortality. But if you survived childhood, and you avoided catching a serious infectious disease, you had decent chances to live well into old age.

And, speaking of timelines, summer turns to winter in a couple of weeks. While Vasya mentions it’s early for snow, we never see a proper explanation.

4. Everyone constantly mentioning how ugly Vasya is

Come on. No one is universally beautiful or ugly, people have preferences, and I find it hard to believe that everyone who meets Vasya will: first, find her ugly, second, say it out loud, and third, somehow get attracted to her anyway.

5. The Chernomor connection

It felt unnecessary. Baba Yaga is already very powerful, Vasya doesn’t need extra explanation for the magic in her blood. While the Tsar Saltan fairytales were among my favorite as a kid, this reference felt artificial, without much connection to the rest.


Did I mention this is going to be a strange review?

If you’ve read my review of The Miniaturist, you know I have a slight problem when it comes to food in books. Namely, if a food is mentioned often, or described in detail, I start craving it and need to drop everything else and go find it and eat it asap. It’s annoying, really, but I can’t help it. With The Miniaturist it was marzipan, with Game of Thrones it was lemon cakes. And here, as Ded Grib became quite a prominent character, it had to be mushrooms, or, in particular, what Vasya calls lisichki .

And that’s the strange thing about how my brain works when it comes to food in fiction—at first I couldn’t figure out which mushroom type that was, but I kept thinking “Oooh these sound delicious, I need to have them! Now!” Then I checked it out, and found out it’s the mushroom that back home we call “duck’s foot” (apparently, it’s chanterelle in English, good to learn something new!) Imagine my surprise to find out it’s actually my favorite type of mushroom—it looks so cool and tastes like heaven.

I had to have it. The thing it, I’ve been living in Germany for some time, and I couldn’t remember ever seeing this type of mushrooms here, and I had no idea where to look for them. But then I went to the supermarket for some other reason, and there they were, my precious babies, just one single tiny packet of them in the whole supermarket. And they were imported from Bulgaria, so of course I had to buy them immediately.

Annoyingly, they were extremely overprized—if I paid one tenth of that prize back home, it would be considered crazy expensive. Honestly, if my mom hears I’ve spent 3.50 EUR on 150 grams of mushrooms, she’ll disown me, and I’m not exaggerating. It’s pretty infuriating knowing the people who picked them get paid next to nothing, and then a German supermarket chain gets to label them as some fancy product and make tons of profit. They even have the audacity to mention “handpicked” on the label like it makes it high class. Of course it’s handpicked, it’s wild mushrooms. And the human labor is cheaper than any mushroom harvesting machine that would have worked.

If it wasn’t for this book, I would have probably skipped, but, as I said, I can’t fight this weird fiction food cravings. So I ended up cooking them with butter, white wine, quark and chives:

I’d like to think that’s exactly how Vasya would have cooked them if she had the chance. Chives is believed to come from Siberia, and quark is super popular throughout Russia, so there you go.


The book picks up right after The Girl in the Tower ends, and we jump straight into the action. The plot is extremely engaging from the first page, probably because we already know and love the characters. Magic is everywhere, from the strange creatures to the distant realms that one reaches through midnight roads.

While I guessed the nature of Morozko’s prison, I loved that part of the story when Vasya arrives at the old town where people can still see spirits. It felt straight out of a fairytale, and I would have loved to spend more time there. Though I wasn’t a fan of how the bath scene was handled, the rest of that setting was one of my favorite parts in the book. Now I want to go back and reread the old fairytales.

I was happy to see that the actually holy priests are effective when fighting the demons. Because of Konstantin, I was afraid all priests would turn out to be cartoonishly incompetent, which would have made Sasha look naïve.

After the Bear was defeated, and the Tatars became the new threat, I was afraid the conflict would become more mundane, leaving behind the fairytale feel. I needn’t have worried! The magic keeps growing and everything ties together perfectly! I love the idea of humans and spirits allying together to defend their land, and how Vasya’s choices played a central role. Her decisions were never strictly good, and often seemed reckless, but at the end shaped the course of history, for better or for worse. Beautiful trilogy. I am sad it ended, but it was a good end.
Profile Image for Samantha.
409 reviews16.7k followers
February 27, 2020
This is possibly a perfect book for me. A perfect finale, certainly. I wrote down so many quotes and I rarely care for quotes. This was the perfect culmination of so many threads and how finales should be done. Loss, learning, triumph, joy, tragedy... all in one book. Such a fulfilling conclusion. One of my favorite books of the year.

I will of course be gushing about it in a review on my channel.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,511 reviews31k followers
January 23, 2019
it has been said that those who do not believe in magic will never find it, and this book is physical proof that magic does exist.

every page, every word, every letter made its way into my heart, which began to beat in a steady and strong rhythm of “i believe, i believe, i believe.”

this story, this trilogy, has woven itself into the very fabric of soul and will forever be a part of me. a truly captivating tale that has made me fall in love with reading all over again.

and as i have come to the conclusion of this wonderful story, i have realised what a joy and privilege it is to have such magic in my life.

5 stars
Profile Image for Petrik.
664 reviews41.3k followers
April 2, 2022
The Winter of the Witch is a stunning historical fantasy conclusion.

“Do you not know me?” she said. “I have loved danger since I was a child. But I have never loved cruelty.”

Katherine Arden brought intensity quickly in The Winter of the Witch. In this third and final book of The Winternight trilogy, the story continues immediately from where the second book left off, and Arden didn’t shy away from hurting her characters deeply. I was taken aback and pleasantly surprised by the turn of events. The Winternight trilogy was one of my top priority series to start and finish within this year, and I’m glad it ended on a high note. There were sections in the middle of the novel where I was genuinely worried Arden won’t be able to conclude this trilogy satisfyingly, and I will get to them in the next paragraph. But let's just say, I’m gratified to be proven wrong.

“It is not for men and women to presume what the Lord wishes. That way lies evil, when men put themselves too high, saying, I know what God wants, for it is also what I want.

After the pulse-pounding beginning, the story took a breather as it recovers from the pain and turmoil unleashed. Being as spoiler-free as possible, I’m speaking regarding the section in The Midnight. This is not a bad storytelling decision per se; even though this is the final book of a trilogy, the nature of the narrative in the series doesn’t allow Arden to make The Winter of the Witch a non-stop battle, war, and actions. It won’t fit the tone of the series. But personally speaking, almost all the sections in The Midnight did not click with me for one reason. I mentioned in my review of The Girl in the Tower already, but it seems like I couldn't feel interested in Morozko's relationship with Vasya. I’m confident many readers will love The Midnight parts. Arden used most of the middle section to develop Vasya and Morozko’s relationship. If you love their relationship development, I’m sure you'll enjoy reading The Midnight sections. But for me, I didn't care too much about Vasya and Morozko's relationship. The parts I enjoyed reading in The Midnight were about Vasya’s family background and Baba Yaga, but that's it. However, it's worth noting that in the grander scheme of the book, this is just a minor issue I had. There were, definitely, more positive aspects of the book. So much more. And it's mainly because of Vasya and her relationship with her siblings.

“I have plucked snowdrops at Midwinter, died at my own choosing, and wept for a nightingale. Now I am beyond prophecy.”

I know I’m being repetitive in voicing my thoughts on the positive things about the series. But Vasya was a constant highlight of the series from the first book to the end for me. It was simply rewarding to see how far she has struggled and developed since The Bear and the Nightingale. She’s badass, she breaks the harmful norm assigned to a gender, and her affection for her family never felt fake to me. The themes of family, faith, and prejudice were interspersed throughout the novel wonderfully. And my goodness, speaking of a star, I can’t believe how much I ended up loving Sasha. Sometimes, it was easy for Sasha to be overshadowed by Vasya’s presence because his POV chapters are much fewer compared to Vasya. But Arden has made sure that won’t be the case in The Winter of the Witch. Sasha shines in The Winter of the Witch. What a brother. What a character. In the final quarter of the novel, the peak of Sasha's character development turned him into my favorite character of the trilogy.

“I will not forget what you said. I am your sister, and I love you. Even wandering in darkness.”

I know I’m being repetitive in voicing my thoughts on the positive things about the series. But Vasya was a constant highlight of the series from the first book to the end for me. It was simply rewarding to see how far she has struggled and developed since The Bear and the Nightingale. She’s badass, she breaks the harmful norm assigned to a gender, and her affection for her family never felt fake to me. The themes of family, faith, and prejudice were interspersed throughout the novel wonderfully. And my goodness, speaking of a star, I can’t believe how much I ended up loving Sasha. Sometimes, it was easy for Sasha to be overshadowed by Vasya’s presence because his POV chapters are much fewer compared to Vasya. But Arden has made sure that won’t be the case in The Winter of the Witch. Sasha shines in The Winter of the Witch. What a brother. What a character. In the final quarter of the novel, the peak of Sasha's character development turned him into my favorite character of the trilogy. I will have to leave this point at that.

“If you spend all your days bearing the burden of unforgotten wrongs you will only wound yourself.”

I will, however, talk briefly about the Battle of Kulikovo that took place in the year 1380 before I close this review. Prior to reading The Winter of the Witch, I knew nothing about the Battle of Kulikovo. I didn’t even know it existed. But this battle was the best part of the series for me. Not only it's intense, well-written, and unputdownable, but it also has the effect of making me do further research about the battle itself. I read Part 5 of the book in one sitting, and the Author’s Note at the end just enhanced the narrative of the entire book, and even trilogy, for me.

“There are no monsters in the world, and no saints. Only infinite shades woven into the same tapestry, light and dark. One man’s monster is another man’s beloved. The wise know that.”

The Winternight Trilogy became the first out of ten priority series I planned to start and finish in 2022, and I don’t regret this decision. I entered this series expecting an atmospheric trilogy that would make me feel the cold of winter through the text, and I got what I wanted on that front. But I got so much more out of the trilogy. A compelling story about a witch, a brother, a prince, a frost demon, a chaos spirit, a horse, and more. I don’t usually enjoy reading historical fantasy novels, but I can certainly recommend The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden.

Picture: The Winter of the Witch by Afterblossom

Series review:

The Bear and the Nightingale: 4/5 stars
The Girl in the Tower: 4/5 stars
The Winter of the Witch: 4/5 stars

Winternight Trilogy: 12/15 stars

You can order this book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions | I also have a Booktube channel

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Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
March 5, 2021

Russian firebird

Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Medieval Russia comes to life in Katherine Arden’s WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY, which began in Lesnaya Zemlya, a small village in northern Rus’ in The Bear and the Nightingale and continued in The Girl in the Tower. Vasilisa (Vasya) is a young woman with the rare ability to see and speak with the natural spirits or chyerti of the hearth, stables, and lands and waters of Rus’. Vasya has gained the attention and respect of the winter-king Morozko, god of death, who has helped her along the way as she fought and bound the demonic Bear, traveled from Lesnaya Zemlya to Moscow, and undertook a dangerous masquerade as a boy while fighting to protect Moscow and her family from both an evil sorcerer and the Mongol invaders.

The Winter of the Witch begins in the aftermath of a huge fire that burned much of Moscow. The distraught people of Moscow are whipped into a rage by Vasya’s nemesis, the priest Konstantin, who blames Vasya for the fire (with some justice). Vasya is captured by a mob and nearly burned to death as a witch. Though she escapes, a tragic loss leaves her reeling, and now a terrible price has been paid on her behalf. The Bear is on the loose again, pulling Konstantin into his plans for war and chaos, and Morozko has disappeared into some hidden prison. The vast Tatar armies, the Golden Horde, are still on the move against Moscow, and Vasya has perilous journeys to make through magical midnight lands as she tries to save her country and the humans and spirits that she loves. Vasya has gained in personal strength and magical power from her beginnings in the village of Lesnaya Zemlya, but she still makes some serious mistakes along the way.

In the WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY, Arden has proved herself particularly adept at weaving together folklore and actual history. The Winter of the Witch focuses on the events leading up to the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380, but puts a fantastical spin on it. As the country lurches toward war, Vasya is guided into the midnight realm of Polunochnitsa, or Lady Midnight, where she meets not only one of her ancestors ― a famous Russian folklore character in her own right ― but the mythical firebird, Pozhar (whose other form is a golden mare), and a delightfully opinionated mushroom spirit that Vasya called Ded Grib (Grandfather Mushroom). Pozhar and Ded Grib represent the high and the lowly among the chyerti, whom Vasya is trying to protect along with the humans who inhabit Russia. Even Medved, the fearsome Bear who played such a terrifying role in The Bear and the Nightingale, becomes more understandable and sympathetic, or at least much more entertaining as a character. It’s a nice reminder that even villains have some positive characteristics.
He spoke of Russia. Not of Muscovy, or Tver, or Vladimir, the principalities of the sons of Kiev, but of Russia itself, of its skies and its soil, its people and its pride.

She listened in rapt silence, eyes vast and filled like cups with shadow. “That is what we are fighting for,” said Sasha. “Not for Moscow, or even Dmitrii; not for the sake of any of her squabbling princes. But for the land that bore us, man and devil alike.”
The tensions between Christianity and the old pagan ways, humans vs. chyerti, are ultimately resolved in a way that I hadn’t expected, but that I found profoundly moving, and Arden’s writing style is entrancing. The Winter of the Witch is not just the coming-of-age story of a girl with magical powers, or a romance, though it has both of those elements; it deals with larger themes, like love of country, individual worth, self-sacrifice, and cooperation with those who are different. The WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY was a wonderful series from beginning to end, and I give it my highest recommendation.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for review. Thank you so much!!

Initial update: Five stars! SO, so good!! Amazing wrap-up to this fantasy trilogy set in medieval Russia. I love how this weaves Russian folklore into actual history, and deals with larger themes, like love of country.

Plus it made me cry.

If you haven't read this trilogy yet, I highly recommend it!

Initial post: YES! I finally got the ARC of this last book in this trilogy (which began with The Bear and the Nightingale)!! Now can I keep my hands off it for a couple of weeks while I read a few other books in my urgent TBR pile? We'll see ...

Content notes: a fair amount of gritty violence and a non-explicit sex scene.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,133 reviews39.3k followers
May 9, 2021
An outsider, weird child talking with invisible creatures slowly turned into a brave orphan disguised in boy’s clothes, riding on her horse to her unknown and undefined path and at the end she meets with her magic and called as a witch of winter.

I cannot help myself not to cry over this end! Don’t take me wrong, of course there are so many tragic elements about the ending of the story and I waited at least three weeks after I ended the second book because I know that I didn’t want to say goodbye to Vasya, Morozkov, even Sasha, Marya, chyerti of the heart and of course Solovey!

Amazing Russian folklore combines with real historical events of 14th century and mythological, miraculous, lyrical, poetic elements are the main instruments of the author to compose her remarkable, unique, classic symphony will always tune in your ears and the legendary journey of Vasilisa, Vasilii the bravest, Vasya the witch will always stay in your heart!

Vasya was a weird, outcast, lonely young girl witnesses her brother leaves to serve to God and her sister Olga, her secret-holder best friend leaves to get marry. Her stepmother tries to get rid of her and even her father questions her mental health because she sees and talks with the supernatural creatures and make her groom candidates run away without looking back. The first book: Bear and Nightingale is mostly a Russian family’s survival story against the vulgarity and wilderness of nature. Eventually Vasilisa slowly admits she is different and she doesn’t want to get marry or have children and also doesn’t want to serve to God! First step to learn her true destiny starts as soon as she encounters with the frost demon.

At the second book, orphan Vasilisa starts her tremendously dangerous journey with her new partner in crime, a witty beauty, loyal friend, her horse Solovey. She disguises herself in boy’s clothes, cutting her hair, riding adroitly on the horse, alone, heartbroken, exhausted, had seen more things for her own age. She starts to gather the pieces from her past and she encounters with her cousin Dimitrii, brother Sasha and sister Olga. Her brother questions her motives and doesn’t give away her lie and introduces her as his brother Vasilii.

At the third book, everybody learns Vasya’s true identity but they also claim her being witch and try to burn her in the fire by a lynch group whose ring leader is Konstantin Nikonvinch ( Yes from the beginning this bastard wants to get his revenge and wait for perfect timing to conduct his big plan!) Something unacceptable, heart-wrenching happens… ( Nope, our heroine is still alive! But she is psychically and mentally wounded! I am not gonna spill any spoiler but this part of this book ripped my heart out!!!!!! MORE SNIFFFFFFFF)

At this book Vasya suddenly understands who she is, what she is destined for, what she is aiming, where she is coming from and where she is going! This doesn’t mean her journey is ended after this trilogy! On contrary this is just the beginning because she is not immature, naïve, childish girl anymore, she’s gone through hell several times and she came back. She lost too many. She is tested with mind tricks. She learns her magic. She dealt with the evils for bringing good to her country. She is tested by magic’s attraction. She’s gone on the verge of madness and but successfully she learned to handle the devils, tricksters, liars, Bear, Lady Midnight. With the help of Pozhar and Ded Grib ( our favorite grandfather mushroom) who represents the chyerti, she uses her own powers to defend Moscow against its enemies.

The ending war reminded me of Battle of Bastards –my all time favorite GOT episode- it is bloody, violent, terrifying, vulgar, harsh, unpredictable, realistic, agitating, mind blowing!
Conclusion of the story was magnificent and I’m still hopeful in near future we may still take more journeys with those memorable characters.

This amazing story is about family, survival skills, discovering yourself, your roots, learning your past to define your future, fight, sacrifice.


This trilogy stole my heart and I want to read them in near future to rediscover some details I may have missed.

Vasya… Morozkov… You stole my heart and I want it back…I also want to read more of your stories. I hope my wish come true sooner!!!
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
684 reviews1,051 followers
December 10, 2020
4 stars 🌟 💖 ❄️

“Who are you? ‘I am a witch. I have plucked snowdrops at Midwinter, died at my own choosing, and wept for a nightingale. Now I am beyond prophecy.”

This is such a magical and wintry trilogy.
There is a war coming, between both natural and supernatural enemies and of course Vasya finds herself in the middle.

I sometimes found it hard with the numerous names that can be used for the same person, and I’m also not big on the romance between her and the Winter King but I love the magical creatures and the plot so that wins overall.

“They hurt you. They beat you, spat on you, put you in the fire. Men will suck all the wildness out of the world, until there is no place for a witch-girl to hide. They will burn you and all your kind.”

Also really enjoyed the church vs local belief systems and how the whole arc was dealt with.

I also loved

Overall, a tale that sucks you in and covers you in snow and magic.

““Run into the dark, and be brave.”

“Love is for those who know the griefs of time, for it goes hand in hand with loss.”


First book Christmas present of 2019 💝
Can’t wait to finish this trilogy
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,545 reviews24.6k followers
December 11, 2018
Katherine Arden completes the wonder that is the stellar Winternight trilogy, and leaves me in pieces, distraught with a deep sense of loss that this is the end. This is epic storytelling as it begins with the ashes of Moskva and a traumatised people susceptible to the charismatic priest Konstantin, a man overcome by a maelstrom of feelings, with fear of Vasya dominating. Branded a witch and pariah, Vasya is to be tested beyond human endurance, acquiring a fire within, wracked with grief and loss. Immersed in magic within the vast enchanted lands of Midnight, she travels exhausted and broken, becoming aware of her family history and legacy, making her the heir to her unforgiving great grandmother, but Vasya has much to learn. The winter king, the death god Morozko, has sacrificed himself for Vasya, but at a terrible price as the spirit of chaos, the bear, is unleashed on a Moscow already on its knees, as the diminished power of the chyerti leaves its open to the further incoming bloodlust, death and destruction.

The Grand Prince of Moskva, Dmitrii, Vasya's cousin is beseiged by dangers from all sides, the rising power of Konstantin, now discarding all remnants of his Christian faith for a devil's bargain with the bear in return for power. The Tatars with vast forces of fighting men, under the leadership of Mamai, seek silver from Dmitrii, with plans to decimate and conquer Rus through war, if the silver is unforthcoming. Terrified for her family and Rus, Vasya seeks Morozko, unprepared for what she finds. In this dark fairytale, Vasya comes of age, becomes a woman, becoming aware of her abilities, exercising her magic and rallying to become the third force of power as many chyerti, and Pozhar, the firebird, form an alliance with her. Magic, however, is a gift and a curse, rich in its temptations, but exposing her to an all consuming madness that threatens all that ties her to her family, Rus, humanity, and love. To fight the forces that threaten Rus and her family, Vasya ventures into unthinkable terrritory, making common cause with the spirit of chaos, revealing they share more more than she has forseen. Only unity can offer the miniscule hope of winning the David and Goliath battles that loom, offering a future for co-existence between Christian, Pagan and the Grand Prince, and the foundation for an independent Rus.

War rallies disparate parties but inevitably horror, loss and grief are its repercussions, and nothing Vasya can do can prevent the gravest of loss as her grief overflows. The waters of death and the waters of life offer some much needed amelioration as a close spirit joyfully returns. Katherine Arden has taken the framework of actual Russian history, and weaves a spellbinding tale of Vasya, a young woman unwilling to accept convention on the role of women, challenging the path of either marriage or the convent, the only options available. Arden's storytelling is atmospheric, vital, vibrant and unforgettable. It is outstanding, feminist, conjoining the mortal with the immortal, and located in the rich mythology and legends of Russian folklore. I don't know what Arden will do next, but I guarantee whatever it is, I will be reading it without fail. What can I say?? Just read this. Many thanks to Random House Ebury for an ARC.
Profile Image for Warda.
1,125 reviews17.7k followers
September 25, 2020
A great ending to one of the most whimsical stories I’ve read.


I’m finally completing a series. Can’t remember the last time I did that.

Buddy-reading with Azrah. ✨
Profile Image for karen.
3,976 reviews170k followers
February 13, 2020
fulfilling my 2020 goal to read (at least) one book each month that i bought in hardcover and put off reading long enough that it is now in paperback.


fulfilling book riot's 2020 read harder challenge task #9: Read the LAST book in a series.

an absolutely perfect ending to a trilogy i have loved every step of the way.

richly detailed and emotionally satisfying, everything that happens here slots perfectly into the world arden has created and respects the events of her previous books—every grief and failure, every bittersweet success is 100% earned. one of my personal grumbles with fantasy as a genre is that, where there is magic, where there are characters with powers, obstacles are frequently too easily overcome and all the potential for delicious dramatic tension is sidestepped. here, nothing is easy, nothing is deus ex machina'd away, and when powerful beings do intervene, it is never without a cost.

oh, and although it was telegraphed pretty clearly in The Girl in the Tower, allow me to bellow

vasya as a character is just *finger kiss* mwah. such depth and authentically written growth and maturity; everything she's overcome has left its mark on her, and she grows into her womanself and her witchself beautifully, but not without considerable struggle and loss. her bravery and strength and defiance, her willingness to sacrifice herself on her own terms but not as someone else's pawn, her abiding love for her people even as they turn against her—these are pretty common qualities of the hero archetype, but arden breathes fresh life into old tropes and the result is a heroine who is both likable and fallible, shining up outta those pages, dusting herself off from each struggle with new scars and renewed determination.

it is gorgeous. all of it.

it's historical fantasy in setting and atmosphere—russian folklore woven into actual historical conflicts, incorporating a more modern feminist sensibility without shifting it too far into the trend of MAGICAL GIRL CAN DO ALL THE THINGS EFFORTLESSLY!

i don't want to get into too many details, because it's book 3 of a thing, but i need to shout-out that l'il mushroom ded grib as my favorite new character. i'm sure this series will be turned into a show or film at some point, and i'm gonna want some ded grib merch. to play with my baby yoda merch. because i am grown.

also, as much as i'm immune to romance in my entertainments

vasya and morozko's relationship arc is pretty great. not only do i love me some cold hands, but i appreciate that theirs is a qualified romance, with limits that are addressed in a way that few books involving entanglements between immortals and mortals bother to do. "As I could, I loved you" is my "You complete me" and like everything else in this series, all of their pleasure is mingled with pain.

anyway, there's your zero-plot review of a book i five-starred. i loved this trilogy, and i know i will love whatever she writes next.



come to my blog!
Profile Image for Debra .
2,201 reviews34.9k followers
December 16, 2018
"There is nothing but power in this world. People are divided into those who have it and those who have it not. Which will you be....."

There is a lot of power in the final book of the Winternight Trilogy. This book starts off where The Girl in the Tower ends. If you have not read the first two books in the series, it is imperative that you read them first otherwise you will not know what is going on in this book.

I am not even going to attempt to give a synopsis of the book. There is just so much going on, but I will say that I appreciate how Arden has one book flow into the next. I also love that these books are based on Russian fairy-tales/folklore and history. I am not a big fan of fantasy, but this series worked for me. Although, The Bear and the Nightingale was my favorite, this one served as a very nice conclusion. It is darker, there is more danger, lives are lost (some are just gut wrenching), battles are fought and won, there is romance (finally!), and Vasya really comes into her own (and her power). Plus, we get re-acquainted with favorite characters from the series (Solovey and Morozko for me), plus there are villains. I will admit, even though he is a villain, I couldn't help but like and snicker at the Bear a.k.a Medved. Then there are the new characters and realms/worlds, such as Midnight, which was a nice addition to the story and serves to give Vasya more knowledge about her family.

"There are no monsters in the world, and no saints. Only infinite shades woven into the same tapestry, light and dark. One man's monster is another man's beloved. The wise know that."

There is a lot going on in this book and at times, the action felt drawn out. At times, I wanted it to move a little faster. A plus, in this book, is the vivid descriptions. We are dealing with a real place (Russia) but also with another world, magic, magical creatures, etc. so it helped tremendously that Arden gave the reader detailed descriptions. I found it was easy to visualize the book as I read.

I believe most fans of this series will like how the trilogy ends. I like that Vasya made her own decisions and stood by them. She remained a strong female character throughout the series and ended strong.

3.5 stars rounded up

Thank you to Random House Publishing - Ballantine and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Profile Image for Hannah.
588 reviews1,047 followers
January 20, 2019
I adored this beyond measure.

I am a huge fan of this trilogy, have been ever since reading the very first chapter of the first book. I was both super excited and a bit apprehensive before reading this book – but I didn’t have to worry because Katherine Arden absolutely sticks the landing here. This book is both a great conclusion to this brilliant series as well as a great book in its own right.

What Arden does better than most authors I read is building an atmosphere so immersive I become lost in her (impeccably researched) world. I found reading this book a very rewarding experience and I am definitely a life-long fan. Drawing on Russian fairy tales and real world figures to build a world uniquely her own, Arden tells a story of a girl and her choices. Whatever happens in this book is always filtered through Vasya’s lenses and her destiny and I am in love with this. Vasya is a difficult character but someone I could not help root for. I wanted her to find her place and be happy. She is allowed to be prickly and nurturing, she can be rash and caring, and altogether wonderfully rounded. Her relationship to the Winter King just worked for me in this book (I was not fully on board in the book before) and I really liked the overwhelming tenderness between those two.

I adore how the world becomes more complicated as Vasya grows and the scope increases. Things that seemed very black and white to her in the first book become more ambivalent, people grow while staying true to their characterization, and overall the world becomes ever more believable.

Arden has a very distinct and very beautiful writing style that hints at her influences while being very much her own thing and from the very first chapter I was glad to be back in her capable hands. There is a rhythm to her writing that I find very beautiful and this coupled with a story that wraps up strong makes this a strong contender for my favourite book of this year (I just know it’ll make the list).

I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Ebury Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

You can find this review and other thoughts on books on my blog.
Profile Image for Lucy.
413 reviews603 followers
March 14, 2019

”I have plucked snowdrops at Midwinter, died at my own choosing, and wept for a nightingale. Now I am beyond prophecy.”

Enchanting !
More action packed than the other two books but still maintains all of its magical elements and folklore. This book picks up straight after book 2 so we get to learn what happens of Vasya, Morozko, The Bear, Vasya’s family and Father Constantine, as well as many others. This book introduces us to more magical folklore, see Vasya use her magical skills, we get to travel to enchanted places through Midnight and meet Baba Yaga.

I love Vasya as a character and she will forever be one of my most favourite and most impactful heroines I have ever come across in literature. I would love to be like her- she’s a very inspirational female character to follow. She is absolutely smart, fierce, independent, devoted, passionate and brave. She wants a life of magic instead of traditional gender roles that others are trying to box her in to. We also get to see more Vasya and Morozko and see how their interactions develop.

I purely enjoyed this final instalment and it was a fantastic way of finishing the series. (I am now just forever going to reread over them as they were so good!).

I am obsessed with the winternight trilogy and now that I’ve finished it I am at a loss as to what to do - I’m very sad that it is over, but it is one of the best series I have ever read. Katherine Arden has made me fall in love with the world she created and the characters she shared with us.
Profile Image for Anne.
3,869 reviews69.2k followers
September 24, 2020
I really thought this was the best of the bunch.
The pacing was far better in The Winter of the Witch than it was in the first 2 books. Which to me, means the story itself wandered less and moved toward the action and resolution in a timely manner.


Also, if you love horses, you'll love these books.
I'm going to have to say I've never really seen the appeal of horses. When I was a kid I used to go help my neighbor lady take care of her horses in the summer. I wasn't a huge fan. They were nice horses and all, and it wasn't like I had a bad experience, but they're such a pain in the ass as far as upkeep goes.
Cats. I like cats. Not a very needy pet, you know?


However, Vasya loves horses, talks to the horses, and her best friend is a horse.
Point is, horse lovers will really dig this book.
But that's neither here nor there because Vasya is about to get her ass burnt up by that shitty priest and his idiotic peasant followers.


Unfortunately for the villagers, Vasya doesn't go up in flames. Instead, she pops out of the fire and eats all their babies!
No. Just kidding. But that would have been fun, also.
Instead, Morozko makes a deal with his brother to save her. Not sure she really needed him, but it's the thought that counts, you know?
Turns out, there's an army heading toward Moscow and it's up to Vasya to unite the humans and the otherworldy creatures to save her beloved Russia.
Now, if I were her, I would have left those assholes to their fate. <--which is probably why this story isn't about me.
Anyway, it's summertime in Russia...


So, the Winter King, her biggest ally and the guy she loves, can't do anything without basically melting like Frosty the Snowman.


But a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
She makes some new friends! And by makes friends, I mean she kind of forces some of these magical folks that hate humans to help her.
Good things happen, bad things happen, and spoilery things happen.
And then the story is over.

I liked it! Glad I went ahead and finished this trilogy.
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,205 followers
Want to read
August 29, 2019
I swear this series has the most beautiful covers ever.
Profile Image for Leah.
389 reviews
January 13, 2019
1-12-19 So I’ve sung this trilogy’s praises since THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE and I will continue to declare my love for these books.

Where do I start? I was bawling my eyes out in the first 30 pages and couldn’t stop for a good twenty minutes. The action scenes are engaging. The writing still moves with the dreamy beauty of a fairy tale. We learn more about Vasya’s legacy, which is just as mystical as readers of the series imagined.

And yet I had some minor quibbles. I had some issues with Vasya this time around. Some of her choices, done on whims, have major consequences that are, for lack of a better word, aggravating. She has grown a lot since, but in this book, she seems more immature compared to when we first met her. The major choices just seemed un-Vasya. And the frost demon is almost a non-entity in the book. Granted, he is a fleeting presence in the first two books, but in here, he vanishes for a major portion of the story. However, the scenes between him and Vasya still have that sparkling chemistry, and there is one moment that had me internally screaming with joy. I have a huge crush on him and that love is never going away.

I still love this series and see a lot of possibilities with spin offs (seriously, can we get a book about Morozko, please and thank you), I will treasure the series as it is.


5-19-18: The publisher pushed the release date back to 2019... my...precious! :(
I want this book like Gollum wants the One Ring.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,089 reviews30.1k followers
January 3, 2019
5 stars!

I feel like this is a non-review because it was so hard to write and pinpoint the experience of reading this book and series. In short, I absolutely loved it.

Wow, this book. If you are a fan of this series, it’s one you just have to jump into; don’t read reviews. Experience every word. Every mesmerizing thought of this masterful author. I’m going to keep my review brief to protect all the fun. In fact, I think this is truly a mini review.

Moscow is in ruins, and Vasya is blamed for everything by the people around her. They believe her gifts have caused all that has gone wrong. Vasya learns more about who she is and what she can do as she explores her special powers.

Medieval Russia in this fantastical world continues to be depicted with its bitter cold. Winter of the Witch is a bold fairytale, and it is lush to the senses. This book has more of a warring focus, and my interest lagged a little during those bits, but the expected magical creatures are present to carry to the fulfilling ending for this amazing trilogy.

Kudos to the author for a job exceptionally well-done, and I cannot wait to see what else Katherine Arden has in store for us. Total book love.

Thanks to the publishers for the complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews977 followers
December 30, 2018

**Review is posted here on my blog**

Real rating: 4.5 stars

Who is to say, in the end, that the three guardians of Russia are not a witch, a frost-demon, and a chaos-spirit? I find it fitting.
-Katherine Arden, The Winter of the Witch

I am sitting in front of a window, watching snow slowly drifting down from the sky, covering the ground with the carpet of pristine white. Frost and cold. I am thinking about the fairy-tales from faraway memory that, once upon a time, made me shiver with dread and excitement. Such a distant memory, but so warm. This is how my childhood tastes like. Katherine Arden is a sea-witch with an ancient Russian soul. With her enchanting words, she made me long for my childhood fairy-tales. And this is how true magic feels like.

Doubtless, The Winter of the Witch is the most fascinating book of the trilogy. You know why? Because it is filled to the brim with fairy-tale creatures, frost-demons, firebirds and nature. The kind of nature where mysterious magical things happen, the ones you want to be a witness to. And you don't have to be Russian to feel them. You just have to keep your eyes open.

So much happens in the span of 400 pages: human cruelty, death, magical adventure, love, treason, war, and, then, peace. And still, it was not enough! I want more of Midnight travels; I want to see faraway lands and realms and times. All is possible in the Winternight. And maybe one day, we'll encounter more of Vasya's travels. I wish...

Vasya is the heroine you cannot stop admiring. Such a growth from book 1! She transformed from a barefoot child into a grown fierce woman any creature would be honored to follow. She is brave, she is loyal - she is a true hero everyone needed.
“I am a witch. I have plucked snowdrops at Midwinter, died at my own choosing, and wept for a nightingale. Now I am beyond prophecy.”

And Morozko! What a hero! He is not your typical knight in shining armor; he is complex and tormented by his own demons - he is the winter-demon. He is ancient and, at times, he feels distant, but he was there for Vasya, he wanted to be more human because of her. How could my heart not beat faster when Morozko was near? How could I not melt every time Vasya and Morozko were together? It's just beyond my strength to fight these two.
“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. And yet—” He broke off, drew breath. “Yet what else to call it, this terror and this joy?”

I need a frost-demon of my own. I think I'll make it my life goal to find one. Besides, I live in a country where winter lasts up to 5 months, so I might wander in the forest sometime, and look for the hero of my story.

Apart from the magic and incredibly reliable characters, can we talk about the historical aspect and cultural accuracy? In all my reviews to the trilogy I seem to be unable to stop praise Katherine Arden for the hard work of researching, more than that - living in the world she has created, because only when you are in something with the whole of your heart, can you create something so beautiful and endearing. To take the old and almost forgotten pagan culture and merge it masterly into the context of the - no less old and controversial - historical events, seamlessly merge the two, thus creating a wonderful story that conquers hearts of thousands of readers all over the world. Pure magic, if you ask me.
And if you were wondering, yes, paganism still exists, otherwise, how would I be able to run naked in the rain and make bloody sacrifices occasionally?

An amazing journey has come to an end. I am sad. Part of my heart stays with these books and will come back to them over and over again. But for now, can I just ask a Firebird to take me away to faraway lands of witches, frost-demons and chaos-spirits?

Note: all quotes are taken from the uncorrected ebook copy and are subjected to change in the final version of the book.

Profile Image for Hamad.
990 reviews1,307 followers
December 25, 2020
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The Bear and the Nightingale ★★★ 3/4
The Girl in the Tower ★★★★
The Winter of the Witch ★★★★ 1/4

“There are no monsters in the world, and no saints. Only infinite shades woven into the same tapestry, light and dark. One man’s monster is another man’s beloved. The wise know that.”

This year I have read a few series that starts good and get better and better with every book in the series and this is a very good example of that. This is mostly a review of book 3 with a bit about book 2 but the series as a whole ended with the expectations that I had for it when I first started it and I salute the author for that.

The Bear & the Nightingale starts interesting, around the middle it is a bit slow and then it picks up the pace and the action again. The Girl in the Tower has a second half that is much more interesting and faster than the first book and finally, The Winter of the Witch picks up the good pace where book 2 stopped and keep going up till the end of the series.

I like Arden’s prose, the books are some of the most atmospheric books I have ever read and that’s why I recommend reading them in a colder weather if you are planning to because that would just enhance the experience. The writing is easy to follow and understand and that’s why I find it hard to categorize this into YA or Adult Fantasy but no matter what category it falls into, I think it can be enjoyed by all readers and I really did see both the YA and Adult communities read and love it.

“The more one knows, the sooner one grows old,” snapped the domovaya”

The world building just keeps growing and I like the Russian vibes it had with all the mythologies and folklore it features. The first book in the series had little magic but it just kept getting more awesome with each entry.

The characters are also included in the above mentioned growth. Vasya is a character that keeps growing literally and configuratively through the series. There is a lot of characters that we say goodbye to in this series and I think the ending is bittersweet but it is very fitting for the story. I couldn’t think of a better alternative!

“I have been running through the dark, trying to save all who have need of me. I have done good and I have done evil, but I am neither. I am only myself.”

Summary: This year I have been blessed with many series that keep getting better with each book and this was one of them. There is an improvement in writing, in characters growth and in world-building with each book. There are scenes that i remember vividly still from book 2 & 3. The books are very atmospheric so be sure to read them in Winter if you are planning to.
Profile Image for Holly.
1,415 reviews960 followers
January 11, 2019
I realize it's only January, but I predict this will be one of my favorite books I read this year. This trilogy, what can I say about it without spoiling anything for those who have not read it yet? Well, if you took some Russian history and folklore, some historical misogyny and religious zealotry, a fantastic heroine, two very interesting sets of twins, some romance, some family drama, death, chaos, and redemption - you would get this series. It will be like nothing you have read before (well, for us non-Russian readers anyways) and you will (hopefully) love it. I think each book gets even better as this series goes along, so even if you are a little on the fence after book 1, still give book 2 a try. This series is going on my beloved favorite series shelf.
Profile Image for ✨ A ✨ .
423 reviews1,639 followers
November 8, 2020
“I have been running through the dark, trying to save all who have need of me. I have done good and I have done evil, but I am neither. I am only myself.”

The Winter of the Witch starts off directly after the events of The Girl in the Tower. The pace is faster than it’s predecessors but just as mesmerising. If you’ve read my reviews of book 1 and 2, you already know my thoughts on the writing. But just in case you need a reminder: IT. IS. PHENOMENAL.

Magical and mesmerising. I honesty can’t even put into words how obsessed I am with her style.

So many things happen in this one and Arden really imparted it spectacularly. With everything going on in the plot, it never felt overwhelming.

The setting of this one included not just Russia but also a magical midnight land.

She just…. She just keeps blowing me away with her creative genius. I cant even deal

The character growth was top notch. I didn’t think my admiration for Vasya could grow, but it did. This girl went through SO MUCH during this book alone, she’s truly a hero of the ages.

Morozko, Sasha and Marya are as beloved to me as Vasya is.

New characters were introduced (I love you Deb Grib 😭❤) and old characters made a comeback. Arden really deserves props for reintroducing old villains in a way that did not feel recycled and lazy.

The ending tore me to pieces. I was so distraught, I might have glared at my book for a good 20 minutes before finishing those last few pages.

This series is perfection from start to finish. And even though it breaks my heart to say goodbye to these characters, I am already anticipating the next time I’ll pick it up again. I know it will be just as good as the first time Arden’s words drew me into med evil Russia.

Buddy read with she who also loves morozko
Profile Image for Kelsey (munnyreads).
74 reviews5,691 followers
July 26, 2021
While the plot line was sometimes lost on me, the writing in this trilogy is beautiful. There were arcs in this story that almost made it feel like I was reading two separate books instead of a single cohesive one. While I enjoyed what happened in The Winter of the Witch, this was not my favorite in the series. I adored (most of) the characters in The Winternight Trilogy. Vasya is a fantastic protagonist and I was sad to reach the last page of her story.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,058 reviews353 followers
March 5, 2019
I have so much to say about this book that I’ve been holding back reviewing it until I had time to fully invest myself in my thoughts. I know it’s only March, but I think this is my favourite read of 2019 and it’ll be pretty tough to beat.

In the third book of the Winternight Trilogy we follow Vasya immediately on from the conclusion to The Girl in the Tower. There’s no time to catch your breath, no month long interval, it’s straight into the heart of the action and issues surrounding Vasya and her family. There are riots and pitchforks, fires, and accusations of witchcraft and sorcery. And leading the rabble is a certain priest with a silvery tongue, guided by an ancient enemy now released from his prison. Arden has such a way with words I fell immediately back into this world, experiencing everything alongside Vasya and Solovey. The confusion, the chaos, the sights and smells of Moscow just jump from the page and I felt their anxiety and fear right there with them. When you’re crying before you’ve even reached 10% in a book, you know it’s touched you deeply.

When this writing craftmenship is interwoven so perfectly with magical folklore and real, known, history it combines to make a truly exceptional read. I loved the introduction of the mysterious territory known as ‘Midnight’ and the field of horses. Getting to see some of Solovey’s, and later Vasya’s, mysterious past was bittersweet and touching too, and just added to Vasya’s strength of character. The descriptions of seasons past, as we walk this journey, is wonderfully descriptive and fully immersive again. The plot is always driven and forceful, and the pace continues throughout with multiple twist and battles.

Vasya has also come so far as a character, and it was an absolute pleasure to see her develop further here. She’s constantly trying to learn who, or what, she is, while trying not to give in to the free spirit inside her that tells her to flee into winter. She’s willing to sacrifice everything, including her supposedly immortal soul, for her family, and I loved her for that. Her ability to admit her failings, while still yearning to be what she’s expected to be makes her vulnerable yet deeply endearing. She’s a complex woman with strong convictions and a moral backbone that is decidedly unique and wonderful to read.

The priest Konstantin is another deliciously complicated character. His mixture of pure hatred and lust for Vasya has not quelled, fuelled by his relationship with a spirit who takes pleasure from suffering and internal torment. He’s a deeply troubled man with a gift for creating beautiful things, and although he hates Vasya he hates himself more. There’s a strange mix of pity and anger that I felt when reading about Konstantin. At some of the truly terrible things he does, I hated him like no other, yet Arden has this ability to make me feel sorry for him. It’s close to how Vasya feels towards him too, and to see both of their internal struggles towards the other is quite electrifying.

I couldn’t write this review without touching on Vasya and Morozko’s relationship. At once deeply complicated, and now, rather fractured, we see each of them learn from one another, and what they are to each other. It’s touching and beautiful, sweet and passionate all at once, but never overpowers or is as important to the storyline as Vasya herself is. She never needs Morozko to fulfill her destiny, but rather must discover it for herself and rescue him. It’s a reversal of the stereotypical ‘girl in the tower’ (which makes it even more ironic given the title of the previous book in the series). I love Morozko. His icyness, aloofness, quite literally melts when Vasya gets through his defences.

A really wonderful, magic story full of folklore and history, love and friendship. A must read.
Profile Image for Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~.
347 reviews923 followers
October 25, 2020
”You shouldn't have told them I was a girl, then they might have believed that I was dangerous."

Ah, another enjoyable trilogy come and gone! Would highly recommend this series if you’re looking for a wintery tale full of magic & demons!
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