The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
Second in the Winternight Trilogy, The Girl in the Tower is the follow up to Ardern's fabulous book The Bear and The Nightingale. Vasya returns, fierce and strong as ever, and on the run from her rural community, who have branded her a witch. Morozko, the winter king spirit, continues to be on her side, giving her a magic horse and helping her as she journey's toward Moscow and her sister. Along the way, she encounters burned villages and stories of their daughters taken by the bandits. She is able to track the bandits and rescue three of the girls, but has an altercation in the woods with their leader. She is incredibly surprised to meet him in the city, dressed in finery, and advising her cousin, the grand prince. Vasya is in disguise in the city, but as her true identity is discovered and revealed, this bandit turned gentleman advisor reveals that he too has been in disguise, and it is up to Vasya, her brother, and the grand prince to battle him again before he steals all is dear to them and Moscow itself.
Arden is a gifted storyteller and knows how to get you to turn the pages! She knows how to immerse her reader in her settings and characters, and this was a great sequel to the first, if a tad slower, but still eminently readable and recommendable. I'm excited to read the final installment in the trilogy! Recommended for readers who enjoy folklore and fantasy, strong female characters, a bit of magic, and lots of excitement.