fulfilling my 2020 goal to read (at least) one book each month that i bought in hardcover and put off reading long enough that it is now in paperback.
AND CONVENIENTLY *ALSO*
fulfilling book riot’s 2020 read harder challenge task #9: Read the LAST book in a series.
an absolutely perfect ending to a trilogy i have loved every step of the way.
richly detailed and emotionally satisfying, everything that happens here slots perfectly into the world arden has created and respects the events of her previous books—every grief and failure, every bittersweet success is 100% earned. one of my personal grumbles with fantasy as a genre is that, where there is magic, where there are characters with powers, obstacles are frequently too easily overcome and all the potential for delicious dramatic tension is sidestepped. here, nothing is easy, nothing is deus ex machina’d away, and when powerful beings do intervene, it is never without a cost.
vasya as a character is just *finger kiss* mwah. such depth and authentically written growth and maturity; everything she’s overcome has left its mark on her, and she grows into her womanself and her witchself beautifully, but not without considerable struggle and loss. her bravery and strength and defiance, her willingness to sacrifice herself on her own terms but not as someone else’s pawn, her abiding love for her people even as they turn against her—these are pretty common qualities of the hero archetype, but arden breathes fresh life into old tropes and the result is a heroine who is both likable and fallible, shining up outta those pages, dusting herself off from each struggle with new scars and renewed determination.
it is gorgeous. all of it.
it’s historical fantasy in setting and atmosphere—russian folklore woven into actual historical conflicts, incorporating a more modern feminist sensibility without shifting it too far into the trend of MAGICAL GIRL CAN DO ALL THE THINGS EFFORTLESSLY!
i don’t want to get into too many details, because it’s book 3 of a thing, but i need to shout-out that l’il mushroom ded grib as my favorite new character. i’m sure this series will be turned into a show or film at some point, and i’m gonna want some ded grib merch. to play with my baby yoda merch. because i am grown.
also, as much as i’m immune to romance in my entertainments
vasya and morozko’s relationship arc is pretty great. not only do i love me some cold hands, but i appreciate that theirs is a qualified romance, with limits that are addressed in a way that few books involving entanglements between immortals and mortals bother to do. “As I could, I loved you” is my “You complete me” and like everything else in this series, all of their pleasure is mingled with pain.
anyway, there’s your zero-plot review of a book i five-
starredcatted. i loved this trilogy, and i know i will love whatever she writes next.
SO CLOSE TO MY BIRTHDAY? HOW KIND YOU ARE!