(I’m working on writing better reviews, so from now on they’ll look different than what I was posting before. I hope you guys weren’t too attached lol)
I finished The Bear and The Nightingale today, and to be honest, I’m not sure this is going to be an unbiased review because I was completely obsessed with this book. I attempted to read it once before and had a very hard time reading it because of its heavy prose. It’s a very full book if that makes any sense. Not dry in any sense, but just difficult to read at first if you’re not prepared. It turned me off at first because the books I had been reading were very easy and witty and fun. This book leans a little further into adult fantasy in my opinion, despite being listed for YA. What really gets me is that it was Katherine Arden’s debut novel! It was absolutely incredible.
The Bear and The Nightingale tells the story of Vasilisa Petranova. Vasya is a little girl struggling to grow up in a remote village in Russia, where her role in life was determined before she was even conceived. Girls either married, or moved to a convent, and spent their time sewing, mending, and cooking in the meantime. But in Vasya’s village, despite the new Christian religion having taken over Russia, the old Gods still have a heavy presence. The difference between Vasya and the rest of her people, though, is that Vasya can see and speak with them.
Growing up in a village where she’s considered more than a little odd, Vasya becomes attached to the creatures of the old ways, and in many ways, they’re her only friends. And when danger falls, Vasya does everything she can to protect them.
The characters in this novel come and go at times because the timeline of this novel spans from her birth into Vasya’s teenage years. But each character is beautifully interesting, from her Devout step mother Anna to the priest Konstantine, to her brothers and sisters, and most definitely Morozko and his brother. The domovoi or old gods that protect Vasya’s home and the forest that surrounds her are quaint and sometimes cute.
I found myself devouring this book before long, and became completely enthralled with it. It’s not something you can really guess the ending to, so I stayed up much later than I should at times to figure out what would happen to Vasya as she grew up.
Fans of Uprooted and A Thousand Nights will love this book dearly. I know I did. I can’t wait for its sequel, The Girl in The Tower, which will be released in January of 2018.
- YA Fantasy
- Written by Katherine Arden
- Published by Del Rey in January 2017
- 322 Pages
- Start Date: April 5, 2017
- Finish Date: April 12, 2017
- Plot – 5
- Characters – 5
- Writing Style – 5
- Entertainment Value – 5
- Cover – 5