A Review On The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore

When Russia is being threatened by an unknown force, half-goddess Yaga must discover a way to stop evil from taking over from the lands she loves. As she travels through Russia, teaming up with various people, warriors and creatures, she discovers secrets that change her life and her views of this inco ming war on Russia. I gave

Book: The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: September 20, 2022
(Thank you NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review)
**While this book has already been out I did receive it early so thank you again NetGalley!**
Tags: Adult, historical fiction, mythology, folklore, retelling, romance, magic
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book DepositoryThrift Books | Abe Books
Read: September 21, 2022 to October 29, 2022


As a half-goddess possessing magic, Yaga is used to living on her own, her prior entanglements with mortals having led to heartbreak. She mostly keeps to her hut in the woods, where those in need of healing seek her out, even as they spread rumors about her supposed cruelty and wicked spells. But when her old friend Anastasia—now the wife of the tsar, and suffering from a mysterious illness—arrives in her forest desperate for her protection, Yaga realizes the fate of all of Russia is tied to Anastasia’s. Yaga must step out of the shadows to protect the land she loves.

As she travels to Moscow, Yaga witnesses a sixteenth century Russia on the brink of chaos. Tsar Ivan—soon to become Ivan the Terrible—grows more volatile and tyrannical by the day, and Yaga believes the tsaritsa is being poisoned by an unknown enemy. But what Yaga cannot know is that Ivan is being manipulated by powers far older and more fearsome than anyone can imagine.

Olesya Salnikova Gilmore weaves a rich tapestry of mythology and Russian history, reclaiming and reinventing the infamous Baba Yaga, and bringing to life a vibrant and tumultuous Russia, where old gods and new tyrants vie for power. This fierce and compelling novel draws from the timeless lore to create a heroine for the modern day, fighting to save her country and those she loves from oppression while also finding her true purpose as a goddess, a witch, and a woman.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Spoiler Free Review

When Russia is being threatened by an unknown force, half-goddess Yaga must discover a way to stop evil from taking over from the lands she loves. As she travels through Russia, teaming up with various people, warriors and creatures, she discovers secrets that change her life and her views of this incoming war on Russia.

I gave The Witch and the Tsar four stars, really enjoying being immersed in the Russian folklore and how Olesya Salnikova Gilmore retells the story of Yaga and the reign of Ivan the Terrible and impending war on Russia. The Witch and the Tsar was atmospheric and the detail almost made me feel the anxiety as the war continued to build. I think the one thing I enjoyed was the interludes that Gilmore added. They were both mysterious and added to the intrigue of the fact that there was something magical and godly involved yet out of reach from Yaga.

I really enjoyed the fact that Yaga did what she had to do in order to protect herself and the people she cared about as well as Russia. Seeing 16th century Russia in turmoil yet the magical twist that only Yaga could properly deal with as she had the connection between the world of Gods and the human world. I loved the magical twists The Witch and the Tsar had and the fact that the people she trusted and loved fought beside her the whole time. The one thing that I also enjoyed was the fact that while she thought she had to do this alone, she was reassured by her peers and loved ones that they were by her side.

I loved the hints of Yaga’s powers and all the capabilities that she had. I think the way that Gilmore does such a fantastic job introducing us of the magic in this world while also incorporating that into the human world was fascinating. Even just the environment and the history and the true historical figures made this so much more interesting.

The Witch and the Tsar was a little slow in the start, probably one of the biggest reasons why it took me a while to get through this book, however, I felt that once we got through the first part, things began to pick up a lot more. I liked that we are introduced to the people that hold importance in Yaga’s life as well as the conflicts that she must face. It began to be more intense and there were so many things that made me curious, wanting more of this book.

The Witch and the Tsar was amazing and atmospheric and I enjoyed every single moment. I highly recommend you pick this up as it combines historical fiction, fantasy, mythology, folklore, and magic embedded into this novel.

Thank you again to NetGalley and Ace for inviting me to read The Witch and the Tsar and for providing me with and ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I hope you guys have a great day, please like and comment down below if you enjoyed this book as well or if you plan on reading it!

Loves,

Veronica Chen

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