I loved this book so so much.
First, I love how this author fleshes out all her characters. Even Konstantine the deeply obnoxious priest and Anna the evil step mother are extremely understandable and sympathetic. They're more awful because of the wasted potential in them -- especially Anna, whose fear of her own sight is so contrasted to Vasya and her mother.
I'm also a sucker for a folkloric setting, and boy howdy, this one delivered. Solid, a+ there. I love seeing Vasya stepping up, looking after her family and her people and holding the household spirits togeather with grit and grim determination. Her care for *her* people is palpable, and that that care includes the household spirits themselves is also extremely apparent.
Also, perhaps it's just because I spent today tromping through snow outside under an extremely blue and cold sky, but the way winter and the weather is talked about hit so close to home, I knew *exactly* what kind of frost or snow they were talking about every time it changed. Beautiful.
I love the different POVs for this story, particularly Vasya's father's. One of the things this book hits out of the park is familial relationships. Vasya and her brothers, Vasya and her father, Vasya and her sisters, her siblings with each other -- they're all so, so well drawn. The way you can love your sibling and want only the best for them and still not really understand each other and get along.
I also love seeing the loss of Sasha to the church through Piotr's eyes, how he's evaluating his children and trying to find them safe and happy lives that suit their talents.
Even with the multiple POVs, I didn't feel like this story was confusing or poorly paced -- all the povs and snippets came together like a puzzle. In the final stretch of the book you can feel all the pieces snapping into place and you don't like the look of the completed puzzle, but that's still the only place this piece fits. I tore through this novel like a freight train due to this masterful use of tension.
OH BOY, MOROZKO, boy howdy. Talk about building the tension right with *that* one! I love him.