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Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden

I finally managed to get all three books in the Winternight Trilogy and I am glad I got all of them before I started the first book. These books are very bingeable that I practically flew through them. The Winternight Trilogy consists of three books 1) The Bear and the Nightingale 2) the Girl in the Tower and 3) the Winter of the Witch. Set in medieval Russia, it is a story of myths coming to life, and of love. But mostly this is a book about courage.

The book begins with the prologue from A . S . Puskin's poem, Ruslan and Ludmila, where a learned cat beneath an Oak tree tells a tale when he goes left or sings a song when he goes right. I think it was very fitting. Vasya, our protagonist, can see creatures that others cannot. What remains as folklore for others is Vasya's reality. Soon she becomes the center of a rivalry that began with the creation of the world itself.

Although I found the Bear and the Nightingale lacking in plot, each books got progressively better. The story was decently paced, atmospheric (gorgeous descriptions) and had a few plot twists that I did not expect. I loved learning about the different creatures in Russian folklore. The Glossary at the end of the book is very useful to understand the different creatures of the Russian folklore that were mentioned. It also leans towards a darker side of fantasy which I found refreshing.

"The brittle sun slipped across the sky, and the shadows of the trees stretched monstrously long".

 "The snow fell thrice, deep and solid, after midwinter, and after the last snowfall came a great blue frost, when men felt their breath stop in their nostrils and weak things grew apt to die in the night."

There were a few things that bothered me. Vasya having to get married, sent to a convent or given a dowry was also mentioned way too many times. It would have been great if we got more of the Death Lord's perspective. Some of the characters were kind of lackluster, mainly the men. They were all the same in that they meet Vasya and then will do anything to have her. Although there was romance, it was not believable. Without a history, there was no reason for these two characters to fall in love.

Overall, I would recommend this series if you want to read a book that will plunge you into the winter spirit with beautiful imagery and has a strong female character. If you are looking for a book that has a plot and is character driven, this is not the book for you.

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