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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

A remarkable young woman blazes her own trail, from the backwoods of Russia to the court of Moscow, in the exhilarating sequel to Katherine Arden’s bestselling debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale. Katherine Arden’s enchanting first novel introduced readers to an irresistible heroine. Vasilisa has grown up at the edge of a Russian wilderness, where snowdrifts reach the eaves of her family’s wooden house and there is truth in the fairy tales told around the fire. Vasilisa’s gift for seeing what others do not won her the attention of Morozko—Frost, the winter demon from the stories—and together they saved her people from destruction. But Frost’s aid comes at a cost, and her people have condemned her as a witch. Now Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, the only options left for her are marriage or the convent. She cannot bring herself to accept either fate and instead chooses adventure, dressing herself as a boy and setting off astr…

The Girl in the Tower

by Katherine Arden

Overall Book Review:

Adored it from the first word to the last!  The Girl in the Tower is the sequel to the luminous The Bear and the Nightingale.  The abrupt ending of The Bear and the Nightingale is completely forgiven now that Ms. Arden has gifted us with more of Vasilisa’s story.  Vasilisa continues to be a fierce and bold heroine moving in a society dominated by men; she also continues to make some mistakes in her passionate naiveté, which are painful to watch as a reader.  Vasilisa’s family remains core in her story and affections.  Ardent and complicated characters, untamed magic, a breath-taking setting, a twisting plot, a mysterious adversary, and spot-on pacing, make this a must read.  This is fantasy at its best. Although not written for a young adult audience, they would certainly enjoy this series.  Do note that it is strongly recommended to start with the first book in the series.

Hands down, The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower have been my favorite new novels of 2017.

Review of an Electronic Advance Reader’s Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Del Rey

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  6 religious exclamations; 3 mild obscenities; 1 religious profanity; 6 derogatory names.

Violence/Gore:   Adult slaps child; reports of bandits robbing, pillaging, murdering; a couple of times characters come upon villages that have been plundered and see bodies and destruction (brief descriptions); report of kidnapping of young girls; frightening scene with a magical creature; character burned by hot water (intentionally); character pursued and arrows shot at; character trains with knife; kidnapping; young woman kills a man with a knife (brief, non-detailed); multi-page battle with swords, etc. with injuries and death; a character runs a blade through a man’s throat; character kills a rat by breaking its neck, brief; a frightening ghost; verbal threats; young woman is roughly handled;  character cuts self to give blood to a ghost/creature to eat, brief; young woman knees a man in the groin; brief skirmish with swords and minor injuries; visions of frightening and grotesque apparitions; extended, multi-page scene with burning buildings, swords, arrows, demon-like figures, fighting, resulting in injuries and death; one character impaled with sword and head cut off (brief); man kicks and punches young woman, they struggle, character stabs another with a knife, a magically induced death occurs; character kisses another and bites lip in the process to drawn blood and smears blood to lend magical strength.

Sex/Nudity:  A few sexual references; generic reference to rape; young woman is naked in a bath and startled by 2 men who then begin to threaten sexually; characters kiss upon a few different occasions; characters kiss passionately; character sees a married man groping a girl’s breast; female character publicly stripped to expose and humiliate; character stripped so they could bathe; woman is naked during child birth; a man grabs a young woman and kisses her forcibly w/tongue and grabs breast; female character is in light shift and male character can see through the shift, she then strips in front of him and puts on dry clothes (non-sexual from your point of view, but sexual from his point of view).

Mature Subject Matter:

Death, deceit, discrimination against/inquality of women, superstitions, kidnapping.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Characters of many ages drink wine, mead, beer etc. in social situations such as meals and feasting.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!