The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale

A Novel

Book - 2017 | First edition.
Average Rating:
32
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Katherine Arden's bestselling debut novel spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice.

"A beautiful deep-winter story, full of magic and monsters and the sharp edges of growing up."--Naomi Novik, bestselling author of Uprooted

Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse's fairy tales. Above all, Vasya loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. Wise Russians fear him, for he claims unwary souls, and they honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil.

Then Vasya's widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow. Fiercely devout, Vasya's stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. And indeed, misfortune begins to stalk the village.

But Vasya's stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for marriage or a convent. As the village's defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has long concealed--to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse's most frightening tales.

Praise for The Bear and the Nightingale

"Arden's debut novel has the cadence of a beautiful fairy tale but is darker and more lyrical." -- The Washington Post

"Vasya [is] a clever, stalwart girl determined to forge her own path in a time when women had few choices." --The Christian Science Monitor

"Stunning . . . will enchant readers from the first page. . . . with an irresistible heroine who wants only to be free of the bonds placed on her gender and claim her own fate." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Utterly bewitching . . . a lush narrative . . . an immersive, earthy story of folk magic, faith, and hubris, peopled with vivid, dynamic characters, particularly clever, brave Vasya, who outsmarts men and demons alike to save her family." -- Booklist (starred review)

"An extraordinary retelling of a very old tale . . . The Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderfully layered novel of family and the harsh wonders of deep winter magic." --Robin Hobb

"Haunting and lyrical, The Bear and the Nightingale tugs at the heart and quickens the pulse. I can't wait for her next book." --Terry Brooks
Publisher: New York : Del Rey, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781101885932
Branch Call Number: FIC Arden
Characteristics: 322 pages ; 25 cm.

Opinion

From Library Staff

Set during the deep Russian winter, this is a fairy tale full of forest spirits and real-world struggles. Compelling, original, and menacing. Publisher’s Weekly calls it “an earthy, beautifully written love letter to Russian folklore.”

Comment
VaughanPLKim Feb 09, 2017

This wonderfully written tale combines elements of magic, fantasy, and Russian folklore. Katherine Arden's description of the winter landscape is so vivid it is easy to imagine yourself in the snowy forests of medieval Russia. The pacing was slow at times but the ending is worth it. I look forwar... Read More »


From the critics


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ArapahoeKatieK May 20, 2018

This was one of those books that really drew me in and didn't let go of me until the end. Beautifully written with an expert knowledge of Russian Folklore.

k
katedelaney
May 18, 2018

This is a beautifully written fairy tale for adults, which is one of my favorite genres thanks to authors like A.S. Byatt, John Connelly and Susanna Clark. I found this book to be a bit less dark and gruesome than some of the other books of this genre I have read (The Book of Lost Things comes to mind as a particularly horror-laden example), and overall a fairly easy read with short chapters and a quick pace. The hero, Vasya, is a Snow White/Joan of Arc archetype, except the purity she represents is that of the old world, full of magic, strange creatures and many gods. Religion is definitely a major theme in this book, which pits the weakening old ways against the growing strength of modern religion/Christianity. It is a tale of changing times and changing cultures. The writing is very reminiscent of Brothers Grimm-type stories, except it is much longer, so there is plenty of character development and plot twists. I enjoyed this book and plan to read the sequel as well.

JessicaGma May 15, 2018

Set in Medieval Russia, this is a very wonderful tale of the old ways conflicting with the new. Vasilisa can see the old magical creatures who protect the hearth and town from evil, but a new priest has come, and tries to turn the town from the old ways. Vasilisa is a great character, and the story draws you in. I didn't think I'd like the book and I was 150 pages in with little trouble. Worth reading, especially if you like re-tellings of folk tales.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
May 07, 2018

"The stories are all true," or at least here all the Russian folktales are! From the beginning with a chilling story, to the end with a dramatic plot twist, the audience will be enthralled with captivation. Reading this, I could make connections to all the stories I read as a child (Cinderella - the evil stepmother, Snow White/ Little Red Riding Hood - the woods, Beauty and the Beast - the village's fear and aggression... etc). It is similar in plot to the book "The Beast is an Animal," but a LOT better!! It is truly a beautiful book, and I am currently very excited for the next!
- @Siri of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

l
ldetrich
Apr 28, 2018

What a beautifully written story, fans of Russian folklore will find this completely engrossing and magical. The author's writing style is lush and vibrant, and the characters become alive on the page.
Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. I finished the book in approximately two days.

j
jac523
Apr 25, 2018

This is a beautifully written novel. If you enjoyed Naomi Novik's Uprooted, this one is a must read!

l
Linyarai
Apr 23, 2018

This had a really interesting premise, but I felt a bit let down by the slow pace. I would have liked more involvement from the local spirits.

e
essvee
Apr 14, 2018

This was a fine Russian folktale. I had trouble getting invested and almost didn't finish, which surprised me somewhat because the writing is lovely and the characters are just fine. I just didn't really care how it was going to end.

I don't understand why it's listed as first of a trilogy. It stands alone quite well.

r
Rachelc24
Apr 11, 2018

I enjoyed this book very much. It transports you to the forest of Russia. A perfect fairytale.

kobrien3 Jan 23, 2018

I chose this book because I love fairytales and folklore revisited and reimagined for an adult audience. Set against the backdrop of winter in Medieval Russia, the Bear and the Nightingale is so beautifully written and captivating that I stopped halfway through to put the sequel on hold! If you enjoy stories with a strong female protagonist challenging the limitations placed on her gender by the society in which she lives (with a few fairytale twists) this might be the book for you. A perfect read for a snowy winter day!

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