“Every time you take one path, you must live with the memory of the other: of a life left unchosen. Decide as seems best, one course or the other; each way will have its bitter with its sweet.”
First, a smol tip - if you have trouble recalling what went down in the first book, go and reread that, or read a summary of it, because, boy, was I lost at the beginning of this! The first few chapters concentrate on Sascha and Olga, and Vasya, the only character besides Morozko that I could recall fairly well, is barely even mentioned. I was... massively confused, y'all. I didn't know why we were forced to start the novel by reading about two characters who were not even that significant in The Bear and the Nightingale, and I was totally lost trying to remember what went down in book one.
❄ Vasya was freaking FIERCE in The Girl in the Tower. She set out on her journey, knowing little about the world, but hungry for adventures and new experiences. She fought for others and saved lives even when the odds were against her, and she outsmarted fearful people. She went toe to toe with Morozko, and she would not let him (or anyone else) boss her around, or condescend to her. Her confidence in herself grew in huge ways, and I was very satisfied to see her developing into a smart, self-assured young woman.
"You are immortal, and perhaps I seem small to you," she sad at last fiercely. "But my life is not your game."
❄ I'm a tremendous fan of Vasya and Morozko's together, so I was incredibly happy to see them reaching various milestones in their relationship. Like I mentioned, Vasya finally stood up to Morozko, and demanded to be treated as his equal. Moreover, she pushed him until he finally revealed the much awaited truth about some super-important things concerning the both of them. ALSO, they worked as a kickass team close to the end, which makes me hopeful for their relationship in the sequel.
She nodded, swallowed, and said, "I'm just so tired-"
He nodded. "I know. But you are brave, Vasya." He hesitated, then bent forward and gently kissed her on the mouth.
❄ I've thought long and hard about including this next thing, because it is freaking impossible to word it well, but whatevs, this is my review. I love action packed books where the stakes are high, honest! However, it does bother me when I spend the whole book stressed the hell out, because I can see the shitshow coming from the very beginning. And like, everything is building up to that, there is nothing else (plot-wise) to concentrate on. So, yes, that was annoying, and made the whole reading experience kinda terrible for me. At the same time, I KNOW OTHERS WON'T FEEL THE SAME WAY!! The reviews have been really positive so far, as well, so this is another case of "it's not you, it's me."
❄ I was... uncomfortable reading about how the Grand Prince's wife was shit-talked. Was it realistic for the era? Yes. So, did I mind it being in the book? Not necessarily. What I did mind was that Vasya, a girl who would literally rather die than become a quiet, meek wife, was totally okay with how carelessly the Grand Prince and others discussed the wife. The wife was referred to much like a brood mare, which, again, is very realistic for the era, but I would have expected Vasya to feel at least a tiny bit of compassion for this unknown woman. Instead, Vasya chose to concentrate on feeling compassion for the Grand Prince, because he has a huge weight on his shoulder. Um, okay, sure, true, but WHAT ABOUT THE WIFE?
❄ Don't hate on me after this point, because, yes, I may be nit-picking a tiny bit here, but hear me out! I ship Vasya and Morozko together, and I did like to see them go into romantic-relationship territory. BUT!! Back in The Bear and the Nightingale I wasn't even sure they'd ever hit it off, their relationship was that platonic, and so the sudden switch to this very romance-y relationship in The Girl in the Tower was a bit weird.
❄ It was hard to watch Vasya develop so much, and then still act like a child when it came to her sister. I cannot go into detail without spoilers, so I'm not going to say more than this: what Vasya did was awful, and the fact that it was just brushed under the table at the end.... yikes.
Overall, I am conflicted! On the one hand, yay, this was good! I still love the Russian elements and mythology - though this certainly felt less magic-filled than the first book. On the other hand, there are obviously more negatives in this post than positives, so I cannot give this more than three stars. *shakes head sadly* That said, I am excited for the third book!