My rating: 5 of 5 stars ★★★★★
Genre: Fantasy, Historical
“I would walk into the jaws of hell itself, if it were a path of my own choosing. I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed me” (279).
Vasya lives with her family in wild, frosty northern Russia. She is a fierce, precocious girl who loves hearing the stories her elderly nurse tells about the spirits who protect their home and lands. She has a connection to these spirits like no one else. That is, until her father gets remarried to Anna, a woman whose entire life is driven by fear. As Anna discourages her new family and town to spurn these primitive spirits, she does not realize the danger she is bringing to their doors: a danger that only Vasya can save them from.
I loved this book. I mean, loved it. Vasya is fierce when others might have preferred her to be demure, or at least agreeable. Vasya never apologizes for herself. She is brave, caring, and selfless. Everything she does is for the safety of the people around her, even when they are ungrateful or hateful towards her.
The setting of northern Rus’ is so vivid: I could almost feel the frigid snow crunch under my feet.
It was cold, but Vasya did not think of it. She had been born to cold (18).
My only complaint really seems trite… I know it does… But honestly, I wished for a little more romance. I think the author tried to adhere so closely to the idea that Vasya didn’t need a man. I get it. I do. But this story was begging for a least a little romance, in my opinion. I wished for at least a little bit. We’ll see what the next book holds.
If you’re interested in fierce heroines, spooky scenes, and magic, you’ll love this one.