My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is floating somewhere between a 3 and a 3.5 for me so I’m hedging my bets with a 3.
I really enjoyed the folkloric elements of this story especially Vasya’s interactions with the various spirits she encountered as well as her affinity with the horses as another part of the natural world. The conflict between Christianity and the old ways is a fraught one and I found myself getting frustrated with the characters championing ‘good Christians’, which is testament to Arden’s writing that I’m supposed to hate those characters and did! The same can be said of getting frustrated by the very patriarchal and sexist society (historically accurate, I’m sure) and many people constantly reminding Vasya’s that it’s “just a woman’s lot” to get married and have babies or get hidden away in a convent. This really helps to push your sympathies towards Vasya as a character who doesn’t seem to fit in.
The book overall felt a little more like an origin story you might read as an extra to an existing trilogy or series and I would’ve liked it to feel a little more like the start of a trilogy than it did. I can see where threads will be picked up in book 2 but this one feels like a completed story on its own; the threads that continue (based on reading book 2’s blurb) are really quite negligible in this book that they’re almost forgotten entirely. I was expecting Vasya and Morozko to meet properly a lot sooner than the 75% mark and while I can see why the set-up before this was useful it did make the final section of the book seem a bit quick or rushed.
I’m curious to see where Vasya goes next, yes, but I have a lot of other books I’ll be prioritising above continuing this series.
This was book 78 of 2020.