The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy)

Written by Katherine Arden
Review by Nancy Henshaw

Moscow has been ablaze and terrified citizens become a mob demanding the death of a witch. Vasya is condemned, trapped in a cage to be burned on a pyre. Still young but growing in the skills of witchcraft, she escapes to a land of everlasting midnight, danger, hardship and bitter cold. She also finds such friends as a mobile and very articulate mushroom. And – most potentially lethal – she finds love with Morozko, the lord of this icy place. He accompanies her home to Moscow, where her enemies wait: the Bear, now freed from his chains, allied with golden haired, golden-tongued Konstantin the priest. In a summer of relentless heat, which is a torment to Morozko, the whole city seems accursed with plague within its walls, and outside the Tatar hordes assemble.

This quite simply is a lovely story, an epitome of a quest where a protagonist grows and matures, learning by living, a gentle lesson for readers in acceptance of anyone who is “different” and that ultimately the most deserving makes the greatest sacrifice. Since we are in Russia, all the human beings have at least three names to be learned. This author has been rightly compared to Philip Pullman and Lewis Carroll. Finally, everyone would be well advised to read The Winter of The Witch after the other books in the trilogy, The Bear and The Nightingale and The Girl in The Tower.