Title: The Bear and the Nightingale
Author: Katherine Arden
Disclaimer: I received a free copy via Netgalley for review purposes.
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, where the land is blanketed in snow for most of the year, a young girl named Vasya hears stories of magic and the Winter King – Morozko. Vasya is wild and spirited, and the spirits are not just tales to her, because she can see the spirits that guards her home and her forest. However, when a young priests comes to her village and preaches devotion to God and condemnation of the spirits, Vasya finds that the spirits are getting weaker and a dark magic is growing…
The Bear and the Nightingale is the first time in a while that I’ve read outside of my comfort zone – a richly detailed adult novel, but it was just my type of book.
One thing about The Bear and the Nightingale that I can say without a doubt, is that the writing is beautiful. Her writing is detailed and lush – creating a beautifully atmospheric read, perfect for snuggling up with on a cold winter’s night with a hot drink. The Bear in the Nightingale has the perfect blend of fantasy and history, making it truly feel like a fairytale read. I loved the Russian folklore and history, it made it a really interesting read.
There is no denying that Katherine Arden is a gifted writer, but at times her detailed descriptions and rich writing sometimes detracted from the plot, so at times the story felt very bogged down with very little plot progression. The plot didn’t really start to pick up until the last 30% or so. A strong beginning and an equally strong ending, but a weaker middle.
Vasya was formidable and a truly great female character with an endearing personality. She was wild, witty, intelligent, and a well-rounded character with some really great development. She was certainly a favourite and she was what kept me reading. I also loved her chemistry with The Winter King, Morozko. A great set of supporting characters, each with such a distinct personality.
Overall, The Bear and the Nightingale is an enchanting and atmospheric read filled with Russian folklore and culture. Perfect for fans of Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente.