Title: The Bear and the Nightingale
Author: Katherine Arden
Publication Date: January 10th, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Russian Retelling, Romance
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
“I?” said Morozko. “I am only a story, Vasya.”
Random House calls it “the debut novel of 2017 that everyone’s been talking about.”
Yes! Of course I think EVERYONE should talk about how amazingly FANTASTIC this book is. Seriously, this book has all the components you need in a perfect read. Magic? Checked. Retelling? Checked. Russian retelling? Double checked. Basically, the way to sum this up without me squealing every two seconds is that The Bear and the Nightingale is THE book that will take you on one magical heck of a drive and leave you wanting nothing but more.
(oookie wrong kind of want… But ahem, you know what I mean)
So as per usual, may I present to you… *drumroll* THE LIST OF AWESOMENESS!
• The plot is slow and steady, and I appreciate it. It’s not a quick read (though I did finish it in one sitting, which only proves how great it is even more), and it’s definitely not what you would call a fast-paced story. HOWEVER, it’s an extremely strong book with vivid description that takes readers inside the story, experiencing the frozen world of Rus. And before I knew it, I’ve finished the book and though time hasn’t passed at all.
• I absolutely adore Vasya. The author did a wonderful job on building character developments. Vasya is a headstrong, free-spirit girl with a charisma that can charm all readers. And I love the multi-POVs that the author uses in the book. It gives us readers a great glance inside each individual’s mind and not to mentioned, was executed brilliantly.
• I literally feel like sobbing right now because HOW CAN THE WRITING BE MORE BEAUTIFUL?! It’s enticing and basically formed from pure magic. And the author’s detail research in Slavic folklore can easily be seen throughout the story, which highlights the plot and helps the story shine. And above all, I love the fairytale aspect of the book. The house spirits, the lady in the river, the one they call Morozko… all come together and paint an atmospheric and vivid story of snow and magic.
The Bear and the Nightingale is the first book of a trilogy (yes, I admit I did a little flail dance when I heard the news), and seriously peeps, this worth ALL the read. It’s a gorgeous, beautifully woven tale of magic, spirits, and snowy nights. The conclusion is fantastic, leaving me wishing for the second book more than anything. This is definitely a 2017 must read! Highly recommended.
You will love The Bear and the Nightingale if you enjoy…