The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Publication: January 10, 2017
Read: November 2017
5/5 Caffeinated Stars
“A magical debut novel for readers of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman’s myth-rich fantasies, The Bear and the Nightingale spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice.
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.” – From the Goodreads description.
What I thought:
I found “The Bear and the Nightingale” by Katherine Arden through Bookish First. I received “The Girl in the Tower” as an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) and I needed to read the first book before I even thought of reading the second book. That day, I picked up the audiobook on audible and fell in love with an amazing plot told by a spectacular narrator.
“Wild birds die in cages.”
The plot was unique and rivaled Juliet Marillier which is one of the highest compliments I can give. I loved the folklore and how intricate the novel was. There wasn’t a time while reading that I was bored. I spent my days not wanting to finish the audiobook simply because it would be over. The narrator Kathleen Gati was amazing. Her accent was perfect and it truly made you feel like you were sitting around a campfire listening to a storyteller weave a tale in front of you.
“Nothing changes, Vasya. Things are, or they are not. Magic is forgetting that something ever was other than as you willed it.”
If you’re on the fence about reading this break out novel, I will scream at you to read it. I know, some of us (me) hate reading many of the smash out books but this book has changed how I judge fantasies. This is my first book by Katherine Arden and it will not be my last. I am so incredibly impressed with this book. The characters were beautiful and complex in the best kind of way. I was in awe at everything that was captured.
This novel is beautifully written and well developed. It will be one I will reread many times.