[ARC] The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden


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Second installment of the Winternight Trilogy, The girl in the tower story begins a few months after the ending of The bear and the nightingale.

Vasya left her village: despite having fought to save it from the darkness, the villagers say she is a witch, and Vasya struggles for new adventures, so she decides to go and discover the world.

The medieval Russia reserves only a few choices for a woman: nuns of mothers and wives, so Vasya disguises herself as a boy when approaching the villages and cities. In the areas near the capital, the boy Vasya meets the prince and his warriors, and among them her brother  Sasha, who left the village to become a priest.

In the meanwhile, some villages are devastated by bandits’ raids, and all the girls are kidnapped to be sold as slaves, and a dark menace impends on the city of Moscow.

Vasya will end up fighting for the city, her family and her freedom, helped by the folklore spirits and by the frost demon, Morozko.

As in the previous novel, the setting is build up with precision, both folklore and historical elements help in improving the setting and the plot. Here we meet again some characters of The bear and the nightingale, but grown up and changed accordingly to their own story. The plot is engaging and fast paced, a perfect follow-up of the first novel of the series. Now I’m waiting for the last book.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

* The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden ★★★★★

*I read this book in english

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent


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23202647 Burial Rites, Hannah Kent‘s debut novel, takes inspiration from the true story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, accused of murder and last publically executed in Island.

The author takes from the reality to describe the role fo women in the 1800 Island society. Agnes is an illegitimate child, poor, and her only role in society is the one of maidservant in the households and farms. Her last employee is Natan Ketilsson, herbalist, healer, lover of married women and – someone says – friend of the devil.

And its the murder of Natan and of another man Agnes is accused of, with the help of the other household maid, Sigga, and of Friedrik Sigurdsson, from a nearby farm.

In the months before the execution, Agnes is assigned to a family in her valley of birth. The family is at the beginning unfriendly and scared, but day after day they grow fond of Agnes, who tells her story to them and to a young priest who is to help her till the moment of death.

This way the portrait of this young woman grows page after page, her thought aware of the incumbency of death, and we can also appreciate the portrait of the society around her, people willing to judge, to accuse, but also to understand and to comfort.

* Burial Rites by Hannah Kent ★★★★☆

*I read this book in english

Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens


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Fifth installment of the Wells & Wong, or Murder Most Unladylike mysteries series.

In the best tradition of Miss Marple, or of the more recent Jessica Fletcher, we are fully aware that everywhere Daisy and Hazel go, a murder will follow.

This time the two girls are in Cambridge, with the purpose of spending a peaceful Christmas with Daisy’s aunt in a school near the one that Daisy’s brother is attending.

In the city are spending their holidays also the Pinkerton boys, a rival detective society, and the girls will have to collaborate with them (a relation that goes from friendship to challenges).

The crime plot is well-managed as always (my comment to the previous installments is here and here and also here), one of the features that I like is the historical setting, that emerge from small details; in this specific case the role of women in society – and in academy – is the most relevant theme.

* Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens ★★★★☆

*I read this book in english