The Girl in the Tower

Written by Katherine Arden
Review by Chiara Prezzavento

As a highborn girl in 14th-century Russia, Vasilisa Petrovna should be leading a sheltered and pious life, waiting for a good marriage – like the one that brought her older sister Olga to be a princess in Moscow. Instead, Vasya is running from home, masquerading as a boy, haunted by her father’s death, and pursued by the worst kind of rumours. Because really, a girl who sees what others don’t, speaks to “devils”, and rides a most peculiar horse must be a witch, mustn’t she? To make things even more difficult, Vasya crosses paths with her cousin, the Grand Prince of Moscow, and her soldier-monk brother – out to hunt for Tatar bandits; when Prince Dmitri welcomes his adventurous and capable young “kinsman”, Vasya must add dangerous deception and court intrigue to her troubles… and of course, the worst has yet to come.

Katherine Arden weaves together Russian history and folklore in a lovely, atmospheric, beautifully written tale, filled with the beauty and dangers of winter, slowly revealed secrets, magic, and vivid characters. A treat for winter nights.