I couldn't have asked for a better ending. From the moment I picked up the first book in this series The Bear and the Nightingale (review here), it became one of my favourites. Vasya has defied all expectations of everyone around her, smiled death in the face and fought for what she believed in. Her journey was astounding and I am so sad that it's finished.
The entirety of the Winternight trilogy is filled to the brim with magic. From the chyerti to the Gods and everything in between. All of it stemming from Russian folklore which I now just want to learn more about. The setting has always been incredible. I knew very little of Russian history and how they, for a long while, were a people divided.
Intensely entertaining, heartbreaking and informative. What more could you ask for?
A stunning series.
Now for the spoiler-y bits. If you haven't read any of the books I suggest you click out now.
Where do I begin?!
I didn't anticipate Solovey's death. Nor did I imagine it would've been so brutal. That for me was a real turning point in the series, Vasya's first and arguably her only friend ripped from beneath her. It was harrowing to read and every time it was mentioned in the book I got a lump in my throat. Not only that but the minute Father Konstantin appeared I knew it was bad. He's always been a favourite character of mine because of his complexity. He doesn't know who to trust, what to do or if his entire belief is a lie. He's a man with no allegiance and that makes him so dangerous. As shown when he tried to burn Vasya for being a witch.
That led to possibly one of my favourite sequences of the book. Travelling on the road through Midnight. Here Vasya escaped Father Konstantin with the help of her family and friends and went into the unknown. Not before, Medved appeared to her and offered to save her. Morozko had only gone and freed him in exchange for him saving Vasya. Their relationship was brilliant. Morozko did not treat Vasya like a little girl who couldn't defend herself. He saw her as a woman and a warrior. They were equals as much as possible but if he was able to protect her or ease her anguish he would do without question. The scene in the shed as she tries to jog his memory of her was beautiful. So heartfelt and touching.
Honestly, I could go on and on about this book and give you a play by play of it.
I can't pick a favourite moment, character or anything from this book (and series). I truly adored it all. Arden weaved plots masterfully with twists and turns not even the best soothsayer could predict. Her characters are so nuanced and well researched. I had the honour of meeting her at one of her events where she told us that a lot of the characters are based on real historical figures from Russia. The battles are real, though there may not have been a winter god fighting in them.
I'm hopeful that this series isn't going to be the last set in this world.