After running from a home that is no longer safe (after events of first book…) Vasya tries for adventure, determined to travel the world and see it’s wonders. But evil is on the loose and children are being stolen – and it seems she may be the only one who can stop it. With her ability to see and speak to spirits, her much-more-than-ordinary horse and her instinct she must try to discover what is happening and save Russia, battling evil, politics, convention and even her own family along the way.
The first book of this series, The Bear and the Nightingale, has been one of my very favourite books this year, so when I found out there was another one and I could read it I was ecstatic! And the sequel didn’t disappoint. It jumped straight back into the story and hurdled through adventure, character development and a twisting plot with a fantastic blend of the familiar and the new. The setting continues to entrance me; Vasya is a terrific heroine and basically there isn’t anything I don’t love about these books. And there will be more, hooray!
As a sequel this book does tremendously with moving the story onwards but keeping enough familiarity for us to understand: characters who were sent away in the first book reappear here perfectly, both assuaging our curiosity as to their future and creating a familiar space even in the geographical difference. And the plot thickens and ripens perfectly, providing enough new discovery to satisfy but a good amount of mystery still to discover. It was delicious.
I zoomed through the book, so gripped and excited was I by the plot. If anything this book moves faster and steers you more excitingly through: in no way a filler of a second book but a tremendous adventure in it’s own right.
And Vasya is so great. I have complained before of heroines who are all action and no reflection: this is certainly Vasya’s bent but Arden manages to portray her in a way that is not annoying at all. As a reader you feel you understand her: particularly as the rest of the world cannot.
I can’t recommend these books highly enough! I even want to read this one again already. This one isn’t out until January but the first is available now – and the hardcover version is stunning too. I’d heartily suggest it as a Christmas present, plus it’s got the Christmassy snow and winter feelings in there too.