The Girl in the Tower

Katherine Arden

Katherine Arden’s enchanting first novel introduced readers to an irresistible heroine. Vasilisa has grown up at the edge of a Russian wilderness, where snowdrifts reach the eaves of her family’s wooden house and there is truth in the fairy tales told around the fire. Vasilisa’s gift for seeing what others do not won her the attention of Morozko—Frost, the winter demon from the stories—and together they saved her people from destruction. However, Frost’s aid comes at a cost, and her people have condemned her as a witch.

Now Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, the only options left for her are marriage or the convent. She cannot bring herself to accept either fate and instead chooses adventure, dressing herself as a boy and setting off astride her magnificent stallion Solovey.

After Vasilisa prevails in a skirmish with bandits, everything changes. The Grand Prince of Moscow anoints her a hero for her exploits, and she is reunited with her beloved sister and brother, who are now part of the Grand Prince’s inner circle. She dares not reveal to the court that she is a girl, for if her deception were discovered it would have terrible consequences for herself and her family. Before she can untangle herself from Moscow’s intrigues—and as Frost provides counsel that may or may not be trustworthy—she will also confront an even graver threat lying in wait for all of Moscow itself. 

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Dark Eyes

William Richter

Wallis Stoneman is adopted. She was born in Russia and lived there for about five years until she was adopted by a wealthy couple from America, Claire and Jason Stoneman. Wallis adapted to the wealthy lifestyle very quickly and started to enjoy it until she realized she was adopted. Angrily, she fled home and accepted the life on the streets with her runaway friends, Tevin, Ella, and Jake. It wasn’t until she encounters a package revealing her history back in Russia and her biological family that Wally goes frantically looking for the answers to her questions that could result in putting herself and the people around her in so much danger that some people may not come back alive.

Dark Eyes is a novel with a vast amount of unexpected turns that would keep readers at the edge of their seats. There wasn’t really a moment to breathe with all the action and Wally’s constant search that would keep her up at night. The book could have done better by explaining a little more about how Wally is feeling throughout all the events and how stressful it really was. Wally’s relationships were also unexpected and kind of forced upon to keep readers reading, which I personally find was unnecessary. The book did come together near the end, tying up all loose ends. This book is the kind that you would like after a long boring day, wanting some excitement. Overall, Dark Eyes was a very entertaining novel that I would recommend to anyone wanting a book to relax with after a busy dreadful week, to simply dive into a mystery with unexpected turns that no one other than William Richter could think of. – Celine J.

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