(I had an E-ARC, so I saw neither of these covers, but they’re both pretty in their own ways.)
For Vasilisa, living by the dark woods of Russia, winter is a dominating force, paring away the strong and stealing the weak. She isn’t frightened of her nurse’s tales of dangerous spirits, or the deadly winter demon Frost, because she knows that if she honors the hearth spirits, they will be safe. But her father remarries, and brings with her religious zeal and fear–fear that turns them from the old ways, and the winter grows worse, crops fail, people die, and evil draws near. Vasilisa will have to drawn on all her strength, and a lot of help, to defeat the evil grown strong on the people’s fear.
If you like old fairy tales–the ones that can get a little grim, where death strikes, but the protagonists are strong and determined, and they work with their allies to defeat the evil forces–this is your story. In it, there is plenty of history and culture, politics both treacherous and loyal, families who mean well, a stepmother and stepsister who are far more complex than evil, wondrous and frightening spirits, and one very determined, stubborn, wild young girl. Vasilisa is mischievous and gifted, rambling wild instead of behaving like a proper girl–and sometimes that gets her into trouble, but it is also the saving of her–and makes her an interesting character to watch. Richly detailed, without being confusing, a great read for people unfamiliar with Russian folktales, but people who have read a few will find familiar details.