The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.
I was worried this wouldn’t be as good as The Bear and the Nightingale but you know what? I think I like this one better.
If you liked the slow set up and epic scale of the first book you may be disappointed, as there isn’t as much here. Instead we have Vasya off on an adventure, seeing new places and meeting all kinds of people. Even so Arden reintroduces us to characters in a gentle, non-jarring way, making it easy to follow the story even if you’ve forgotten who is who.
While some parts made me cringe – Vasya is young and makes her share of foolish mistakes – they’re in character and part of her development. The only regrettable part for me is when she runs headlong into danger near the end. I get the reason, and in a twisted way it was a smart thing to do, but it was a little too close to heroine bait/meaningless self-sacrifice for my liking.
Morozko is my favorite character and we get a lot of time with him here. Everyone else, from Vasya’s siblings on down to servants is fleshed out and well characterized.
There’s no slump in Arden’s sophomore effort and I eagerly await the last book of the trilogy.