Winter of the Witch was *CAPTIVATING*

winter of the witchMany of you will know of my love affair with the Winternight Trilogy. A Russian fairy tale retelling, full of wonder and magic, it was only natural I fell head over heels for it. My admiration reached fever pitch with the second instalment, as it went to deliciously dark places and blew my mind with its intensity. Needless to say, I was eager for the finale. And *WOW*, it did not disappoint.

Thrown straight back into Arden’s wintery world, the story promised action and beauty from start. With writing as gorgeous as the last two books, this picked up immediately from where Girl in the Tower left off and felt literally darker from the outset. I was utterly absorbed every time I picked it up. Indeed, it was a most welcome return to the story.

Unlike the first two books, which almost felt like self-contained stories, this leaned heavily on the earlier narratives. Plotwise it was a completely wild ride. The story bolts forward from the first page, bearing enchanting little gifts…

…Only to throw you from the horse and break your heart a little. Because this gives us some seriously moving moments. From the romance to the family connections, this story didn’t let up for a second. Again and again, the narrative took risks and delivered on an emotional level that somehow surpassed the previous books. I don’t want to spoil anything, so all I’ll say is that it brought tears to my eyes more than once.

Beyond that, the story travelled into far deeper territory than I could have expected. Building on the previous world building, Winter of the Witch takes the reader into the realm of storytelling and dreams. Entering into the land of midnight, it feels like the heroine is moving around the globe like the second hand on a clock. In this patchwork country, the very notion of reality is questioned.

This intriguing idea was further developed in the characterisation. What I especially liked about this aspect was how it presented the idea that magic can drive you to distraction- if you change too much reality, you might forget what is real. Not only did this present a brilliant consequence for magic, it also allowed for so much of the main character’s growth and forced her to push herself to the limit.

And Vasya isn’t the only one who’s stretched here. Every character is challenged- including some of the more demonic beings. Which allows for another interesting development: this story creates confusion over what is and isn’t monstrous. This presents such a nuanced, clever take on monsters in fairy tales. It’s a point of eye-widening genius; it’s a powerful take on the complexity of good vs evil.

Above all, the story presents a notion of unity. Not only does this tie together the strands of the first and second books, but it also draws this in line with historical events. Incredibly, Arden answers some of the questions I’ve seen about the first book, especially pertaining to the representation of Christianity as opposed to Paganism. This is particularly subverted by Sasha’s role as priest- which I was kind of remiss not to mention in my last review – especially as he plays an even greater part here (also I can’t be the only one to have been remind of Alyosha Karamazov- which made him an instant favourite 😉 ). In the end, the concepts were married together superbly and, at least for me, everything clicked into place.

Ultimately it was a sensational end to a sensational series. I believe I had a fair amount of faith in this finale- but even so, it was better than I ever could have imagined. All the wishing wells, genies and shooting stars in the world couldn’t have conceived something so magical. If you’re looking for a fairy tale retelling, this is quite simply something you need to check out. It’s very rare for me to give a whole series all the bananas- and yet here we are:

Rating: 5/5 bananas                               

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Also look how pretty all my books look together:

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So is anyone surprised that I loved this? 😉 And have you read this? Do you plan to? What do you think of the Winternight series? Let me know in the comments!

44 thoughts on “Winter of the Witch was *CAPTIVATING*

  1. I really enjoyed the first two books, I listened to the first one as an audiobook which I strongly recommend 😀 Gives you the feeling of sitting in a small cottage, listening to your nanna’s tale while you warm yourself over the fire❤️ Can’t wait to get my hands on Winter of the Witch!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First, these books are GORGEOUS – those covers are to die for! Second, great review! This makes me want to pick them up and read them. I have been seeing them all over the internet and I would love to read some retellings.

    Like

  3. This looks really amazing! I’m so tempted to look up everything online right now… (I’ll probably do that after typing this). Anyway, a line I loved from this review was “into the realm of storytelling and dreams”. It just sounds too good to be true ✨

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this review! I must pick up this series. So often finales end up being kind of a let down – too often! – especially when expectations are as high as yours evidently were. I’m so glad the author met the hype and tied up all the loose ends.

    Also must throw out there that those books look absolutely gorgeous! What a lovely set to have in hardback.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. YES!!! I’ve been waiting for this review so we can fangirl together! You’re so right about how nuanced the storytelling is – EVERYTHING was thrown up in the air, I had no idea who to trust and Vasya had to make some really difficult, bold choices based on total gut instinct. I’m so pleased you loved it too! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

      1. OMG sooo amazing! So much deeper than I expected! And that…incident early on where I kept thinking “she can’t have done that, there’ll be some kind of resolution later on..” BUT NO and my heart totally broke.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m really glad to see you loved this book. I recently finished the Winternight trilogy myself; I reread The Bear and the Nightingale in preparation for reading The Girl in the Tower, and as soon as I was finished I dove straight into The Winter of the Witch, I needed to know how it all ended and I wasn’t disappointed. The story was incredible, it had me hooked from the beginning, went in so many different directions but all the plots and all the characters connected really well. My heart was broken a few times and when it comes down to it I can’t say how much I loved this book with words. Writing my review for this one is going to be challenging, I don’t think five out of five stars is going to be enough! 😀
    Great review. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Shari! I’ve always been in love with British covers, they’re all pieces of art and really perfect for enticing people to read books. I openly admit to often pick a book because I’m in love with it’s cover! 😊

      Liked by 2 people

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