“The Winter of the Witch” Is a Fitting Conclusion to a Captivating Tale

The Winter of the Witch cover

Katherine Arden’s stunning Winternight Trilogy comes to a masterful conclusion in The Winter of the Witch, where Vasya comes to terms with her heritage and does her best to both avert…and then start…a war.

I read The Bear and the Nightingale last year. The ebook was $1.99 on Kindle and that’s how I get a lot of my books now. But I absolutely fell in love with the story, the language, the characters, and the imagery brought forth in this fairy tale fantasy set in medieval Russia. I knew the second book (The Girl in the Tower) was coming out not long after, but I have so many books to read that I completely forgot about it. It wasn’t until I got the opportunity for an advance copy of The Winter of the Witch that I remembered I hadn’t read the second book yet. I quickly rectified that so that I could read the third installment as soon as possible.

The Winter of the Witch has a different feel than the first two books, but it’s no less compelling of a story. The Bear and the Nightingale, set it the northern part of Russia, in a small village which still held some of the old traditions, had an ethereal quality to it that started to diminish as Vasya came south in The Girl in the TowerThe Winter of the Witch loses some of that fairy tale aspect, which is ironic, as in this book Vasya finally realizes her true potential. The book opens with Father Konstantin rounding a mob to accuse her of being a witch, and her essentially discovering that she has the ability to perform magic, yet some of the magic is gone from the story. This is a much more political story, with Vasya treading a delicate balance as she tries to avert a war along with attempting to save the chyerti.

This book ruined me. I’ve mentioned in other reviews that I tend to do most of my reading on the subway, and I found myself sobbing several times while reading this book, which can be pretty embarrassing. It’s a fairly normal occurrence for me, so I’m used to it, but I am honestly glad that I decided to finish this last night in the privacy of my own home. The ending absolutely destroyed me – loud, ugly crying.

The Winter of the Witch is action-packed pretty much from start to finish. Whereas the first two books focused a lot on character development and establishing the setting, at this point in the story we have met basically all of the important players, so the action starts immediately, and I mean that literally. Arden’s writing is lyrical, almost poetic, and I was enthralled from start to finish. This is a fitting and satisfying conclusion to Vasya’s story.


The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden is published by Del Rey books and is currently available wherever books are sold.

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.


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