Book Review: The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy, #3) by Katherine Arden

Book Review: The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy, #3) by Katherine Arden

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Winternight Trilogy (Book #3 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy

Pages: 385 pages (Kindle Edition)

Published: 8th January 2019 by Del Rey (US) & 10th January 2019 by Del Rey (UK)


The Winter of the Witch is a stunning historical fantasy conclusion.

“Do you not know me?” she said. “I have loved danger since I was a child. But I have never loved cruelty.”

Katherine Arden brought intensity quickly in The Winter of the Witch. In this third and final book of The Winternight trilogy, the story continues immediately from where the second book left off, and Arden didn’t shy away from hurting her characters deeply. I was taken aback and pleasantly surprised by the turn of events. The Winternight trilogy was one of my top priority series to start and finish within this year, and I’m glad it ended on a high note. There were sections in the middle of the novel where I was genuinely worried Arden won’t be able to conclude this trilogy satisfyingly, and I will get to them in the next paragraph. But let’s just say, I’m gratified to be proven wrong.

“It is not for men and women to presume what the Lord wishes. That way lies evil, when men put themselves too high, saying, I know what God wants, for it is also what I want.

After the pulse-pounding beginning, the story took a breather as it recovers from the pain and turmoil unleashed. Being as spoiler-free as possible, I’m speaking regarding the section in The Midnight. This is not a bad storytelling decision per se; even though this is the final book of a trilogy, the nature of the narrative in the series doesn’t allow Arden to make The Winter of the Witch a non-stop battle, war, and actions. It won’t fit the tone of the series. But personally speaking, almost all the sections in The Midnight did not click with me for one reason. I mentioned in my review of The Girl in the Tower already, but it seems like I couldn’t feel interested in Morozko’s relationship with Vasya. I’m confident many readers will love The Midnight parts. Arden used most of the middle section to develop Vasya and Morozko’s relationship. If you love their relationship development, I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading The Midnight sections. But for me, I didn’t care too much about Vasya and Morozko’s relationship. The parts I enjoyed reading in The Midnight were about Vasya’s family background and Baba Yaga, but that’s it. However, it’s worth noting that in the grander scheme of the book, this is just a minor issue I had. There were, definitely, more positive aspects of the book. So much more. And it’s mainly because of Vasya and her relationship with her siblings.

“I have plucked snowdrops at Midwinter, died at my own choosing, and wept for a nightingale. Now I am beyond prophecy.”

I know I’m being repetitive in voicing my thoughts on the positive things about the series. But Vasya was a constant highlight of the series from the first book to the end for me. It was simply rewarding to see how far she has struggled and developed since The Bear and the Nightingale. She’s badass, she breaks the harmful norm assigned to a gender, and her affection for her family never felt fake to me. The themes of family, faith, and prejudice were interspersed throughout the novel wonderfully. And my goodness, speaking of a star, I can’t believe how much I ended up loving Sasha. Sometimes, it was easy for Sasha to be overshadowed by Vasya’s presence because his POV chapters are much fewer compared to Vasya. But Arden has made sure that won’t be the case in The Winter of the Witch. Sasha shines in The Winter of the Witch. What a brother. What a character. In the final quarter of the novel, the peak of Sasha’s character development turned him into my favorite character of the trilogy.

“I will not forget what you said. I am your sister, and I love you. Even wandering in darkness.”

I know I’m being repetitive in voicing my thoughts on the positive things about the series. But Vasya was a constant highlight of the series from the first book to the end for me. It was simply rewarding to see how far she has struggled and developed since The Bear and the Nightingale. She’s badass, she breaks the harmful norm assigned to a gender, and her affection for her family never felt fake to me. The themes of family, faith, and prejudice were interspersed throughout the novel wonderfully. And my goodness, speaking of a star, I can’t believe how much I ended up loving Sasha. Sometimes, it was easy for Sasha to be overshadowed by Vasya’s presence because his POV chapters are much fewer compared to Vasya. But Arden has made sure that won’t be the case in The Winter of the Witch. Sasha shines in The Winter of the Witch. What a brother. What a character. In the final quarter of the novel, the peak of Sasha’s character development turned him into my favorite character of the trilogy. I will have to leave this point at that.

“If you spend all your days bearing the burden of unforgotten wrongs you will only wound yourself.”

I will, however, talk briefly about the Battle of Kulikovo that took place in the year 1380 before I close this review. Prior to reading The Winter of the Witch, I knew nothing about the Battle of Kulikovo. I didn’t even know it existed. But this battle was the best part of the series for me. Not only it’s intense, well-written, and unputdownable, but it also has the effect of making me do further research about the battle itself. I read Part 5 of the book in one sitting, and the Author’s Note at the end just enhanced the narrative of the entire book, and even trilogy, for me.

“There are no monsters in the world, and no saints. Only infinite shades woven into the same tapestry, light and dark. One man’s monster is another man’s beloved. The wise know that.”

The Winternight Trilogy became the first out of ten priority series I planned to start and finish in 2022, and I don’t regret this decision. I entered this series expecting an atmospheric trilogy that would make me feel the cold of winter through the text, and I got what I wanted on that front. But I got so much more out of the trilogy. A compelling story about a witch, a brother, a prince, a frost demon, a chaos spirit, a horse, and more. I don’t usually enjoy reading historical fantasy novels, but I can certainly recommend The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden.

Picture: The Winter of the Witch by Afterblossom


Series review:

The Bear and the Nightingale: 4/5 stars
The Girl in the Tower: 4/5 stars
The Winter of the Witch: 4/5 stars

Winternight Trilogy: 12/15 stars


You can order this book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)

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