Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden


Title: The Bear and the Nightingale

Series: The Winternight Trilogy #1

Author: Katherine Arden

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 was entranced! I loved it so much!

I tried to listen to the audio of this book but just couldn’t get on with it, but when I was reading this I realised why. This book needs to be read! My eyes needed to see those beautiful words and take them all in.

This is Russian folklore and a fairytale come true in the shape of demons and spirits. It was spellbinding.

Vasilisa is the hero of our story and she is just the most fascinating character I’ve read about. We see her from childhood to almost womanhood, the way she is, her thoughts, her gifts, her being. She was just utterly so well written I could cry.

Morozko is her saviour in many ways, love him already and I really hope there is a love story blooming here although I’m not really sure how that will work! We don’t see much of him but I hope to see more:

‘Sleep is cousin to death, Vasya. And both are mine.’

On the subject of Morozko, I have an art print from a book box that I’ve kept for a while as I really liked it, although I had never read the book (lets just say Morozko is painted in a very good light!)

I think it was an omen. I fell in love with the art and now I’ve fallen in love with the book.

13 thoughts on “Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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