Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale

Vasilisa's world is ordered by the fierce Russian winter and the dangerous forest just past her home. But she is happy with the love and company of her family, and she spends her time exploring outdoors and listening to her nurse tell stories of the ancient spirits who help and trick humans. After Vasilisa's mother dies, her father marries a woman from Moscow who shuns the local spirits and insists on a strict adherence to Christianity. Her stepmother and the new village priest forbid anyone to leave offerings for the spirits. Vasilisa and her family quickly discover that demons are more than willing to move in without the protection of their spirits. They will have to use gifts that have been hidden for years to protect their home and family.

I don't read a lot of fantasy, but I recently enjoyed Uprooted and was intrigued by this book's description. The Bear and the Nightingale drew me right in and left me sad when I turned the last page because I wanted more adventures and more time with our brave Vasya. Readers get to see her grow from a wild girl to a young woman who learns to use all of the tools at her disposal: brains, bravery, and maybe even some magic.

The true heart of this story is the vivid relationships between Vasya and her family. Throughout the book, we see the siblings fight for and with each other and the ways that a father makes both good and bad choices for his family. I am thrilled that we will get two more books with Vasya, her family, and the magic of Russian fairytales.

Make sure you pick up The Bear and the Nightingale before it gets too warm. There should be a chill in the air when you should experience Katherine Arden's gift for making the reader feel as if they are in the freezing Russian forest, wondering if something or someone is lurking behind the trees.

The Bear and the Nightingale
By Katherine Arden
Del Ray January 2017
322 pages
Read via Netgalley


  1. I have been wanting to read this one. I love novels about Russians, especially pre-Soviet Russia. There is something so fascinating about their culture given the immensity of the country.

  2. I was also drawn to this one because of comparison to Uprooted. I really enjoyed it, if not quite for the same reasons as Uprooted. I read it over a weekend in February because, as you mention, I wanted to get at it while it was still winter :)

  3. Uprooted + The Bear and the Nightingale are two books I've had my eye on for a while, but like you, I don't read a lot of fantasy. Knowing you enjoyed them still moves them higher up my intrigue list. Thanks for sharing your thoughts... I may have to save this one for near the end of the year now that spring has sprung in the UK.

  4. I really enjoyed Uprooted too and it seems like this could be good in a very similar way.