Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Review: THE WINTER OF THE WITCH by Katherine Arden


Rating: 1.5/5 stars

Much like my experience with the first two books, The Winter of the Witch left me disappointed and underwhelmed. I am very much in the minority here, and I’m mad about it; I really wanted to like this series! 

This book was honestly a struggle for me to get through. It started mid-action, yet I found myself so detached from both the characters and the plot that I just didn’t care what was going on. I probably should have just DNFed this series after The Bear and the Nightingale, but I pushed myself to continue to the end as I had heard that the first book is the slowest and the story gets more exciting in the later installments.

I don’t really agree with that as there was never a moment when this series was working for me. 

Although the plot does have more of a structure in this book, the slow, melodic folklore writing style remains the same, and I think that was my main problem. Regardless of a story’s characters or world-building or plot, if I don’t jive with the author’s writing style then I likely won’t enjoy the book.

I honestly think the first book can be read as a standalone novel as the ending wraps up nice enough with only the hint that Vasya’s story continues on. But I wasn’t compelled then to continue, and I probably shouldn’t have. I need to get better about knowing when to quit a book or a series when I know I won’t like it, but I wanted to finish the whole series because I already owned the entire trilogy in the beautiful UK editions and also because some of my friends from work were doing a read-along together. And, of course, I am the only person who gave the books less than five stars. . . . 

I feel guilty giving this book only 1.5 stars because I don’t think it was a bad book, I just think it wasn’t for me. But I rate books based on enjoyment and I didn’t enjoy my time reading this. I was mostly just so detached from the characters and the story at this point in the series that I don’t think there was any hope for me actually enjoying this book, unfortunately. 

I also hate to read about sexual assault in any manner, and each book in this series has a small scene that involves sexual assault, which undoubtedly soured my view on the books. 

Overall, know your own reading tastes, and if a slow-burn Russian folklore historical fantasy sounds like something you’d enjoy, then give this series a shot. I’d likely still read other books from Katherine Arden in the future, but it really depends on what they are about before I can say for certain. 

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