Calendar Girls November: Favourite Middle Book in a Series

Hello friends!

Welcome to another edition of the Calendar Girls!

Calendar Girls was a monthly blog event created by Melanie at MNBernard Books and Flavia the Bibliophile and will now be hosted by Katie at Never Not Reading and Adrienne at Darque Dreamer Reads. It is designed to ignite bookish discussions among readers and was inspired by the 1961 Neil Sedaka song Calendar Girl.

Just like the song, each month has a different theme. Each blogger picks their favorite book from the theme and on the first Monday of the month reveals their pick in a Calendar Girls post. 

So without further ado, this month’s theme is…

Despite not having finished the trilogy (I’ve just been turned down for the final ARC 😒) I had to choose one of my favourite books of recent years…The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden.

I absolutely adored the first installment of the Winternight trilogy (The Bear and the Nightingale – terrible review from years ago here) but the sequel is where Katherine Arden really hits her stride as an author. 
The Winternight Trilogy is the story of Vasilisa, a young girl living in medieval Russia. She has a quiet life in a rural village, despite the fact that she’s inherited her mother’s gift to see the spirits that protect their agricultural way of life. As Christianity begins to make the villagers forget their old gods, the power of the good spirits weakens and the village becomes threatened. Vasilisa has to flee her home and immediately stumbles into trouble, being dragged ever deeper into the battle between good and evil. Is she strong enough to protect her people?

There’s a bit of everything in this story. Intrigue, romance, magic…The Girl in the Tower has it all. I think that one of the best things about the book is the usage of language. It is just so. beautifully. written. You could turn to any page and get at least one exquisite quote. I loved how descriptive the storytelling was, and because the novel is set in Russia the dark, snowy environment leant itself perfectly to such a magical, dark fairytale. It was incredibly atmospheric and evocative, and I loved how Katherine Arden wove Russian words into the narrative in such a way that you understood their meaning even though they bore no resemblance to their English counterparts. So clever.

I really noticed the development of the characters from book one and I loved how we got to find out more about each of them now that they had grown up a bit. I was initially worried that this novel would be the awkward middle bit, where everything is set up for a big finale but not much happens, but it isn’t at all like that. Instead, The Girl in the Tower could almost be read as a stand alone novel as it has a proper beginning, middle and end and a narrative arc all of it’s own.

There are so many other brilliant things about this story that I could go on for hours – the use of “real” Russian mythology, the family dynamics, the relationship between Vasya and her horse Solovey…but I would literally be here for days. You should probably just go and read it for yourselves 😜

So, have you read The Girl in the Tower? What would be your Calendar Girls pick? Let me know in the comments! 

20 thoughts on “Calendar Girls November: Favourite Middle Book in a Series

    1. Yeah, I think you’re the first person I’ve found who didn’t like this book! I really did love it though. If you re-read it it would be interesting to see what you thought 😊

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  1. I read the first book in this series and enjoyed it, but never continued with the second. Really can’t put my finger on the reason why. Sorry you were turned down for the third book!

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    1. I’d really recommend that you give it a go, it’s totally different but still amazing. I saw the publisher was thinking of putting together a blog tour yesterday, so there’s still hope! 😊

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  2. Oh, I LOOOOOVVVVEEE this series! You’re right, Arden’s writing is so gorgeous. I must be the only person who didn’t like The Girl in the Tower as much as I liked The Bear and the Nightingale, though. I just preferred the complexity of the villain (Konstantine?) in TBATN.

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    1. Yes!!! I can see what you mean, the two books are totally different. I loved the spookiness of TBATN, I thought it was more original than TGITT which had more action but to me seemed more like genre fantasy. I like them both in different ways but overall preferred TGITT for the tighter storyline. Can’t wait for the third instalment! 😊

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  3. Such a good choice!! I so agree this is where Arden hits her stride πŸ™‚ I loved the character development. And one of the best things about this series is how each one works as a standalone πŸ˜€ Ahh there are so many fantastic things about these books! Wonderful pick!

    Liked by 1 person

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