RELEASE DATE: October, 2017
AUTHOR: Katherine Arden
GENRE: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Fairy-tale, Retellings, Adventure.
PUBLISHER: Del Rey
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.
The Bear and the Nightingale was absolutely beautiful and enchanting! This book has earned a lot of praises and you don’t know how much I was excited to finally read it. I love fairy-tale retellings and this one was definitely a gem. I’ve read a few books based on russian folklore so I knew this was going to be another great read. I truly enjoyed devouring this book. The best things I loved about it was the cold wintry setting, and the lyrical writing style of the author. Vasya was a strong heroine and I really loved her character. Despite the slow pace, the story has always kept me engaged and never left me bored. I can’t believe this was Katherine’s debut novel. She has really done an impressive Job with this book. I loved the way she beautifully weaved this wonderful tale filled with russian folklore, traditions, and their old superstitions.
The story follows Vasilisa aka Vasya whose mother has died giving birth to her. She lives with her father and her siblings at a village near the woods. All the people in her village believe in superstitions and follow old traditions. During Winter every family huddle together before their oven to survive the harsh cold. Vasya grew up with her siblings hearing fairytales from her nurse dunya who is like a grandmother to her. She always loved hearing about the frost demon with cold blue eyes who appears at night. Everyone is afraid to wander in the woods at night because people who has crossed paths with him has never returned alive. Vasya isn’t beautiful like her siblings and people find her odd because of her wild appearance and behavior. When Vasya’s father goes to Moscow, he comes back bringing her a step mother who forbids them to honor the household spirits and add to that, she’s really not fond of the wild Vasya. She wanted to get rid of her by either marrying her away or sending her to a convent. Since childhood Vasya has a gift to see the household spirits and talk to them. She hid her ability because she knew no one would believe her and people already call her a witch. When a new charismatic priest appears in the village, people stopped following the old rituals and soon misfortune has fell upon their village. Crops begin to fail, the winter has become even more harsher, wild creatures started preying on their livestock. But Vasya can see the real danger is the rising evil that keeps getting closer to them. To save her village and her family from this ominous threat, Vasya defies everyone and uses her gift to find someone that holds all her answers.
I loved Vasya! She’s a strong heroine who’s brave, curious, rebellious, and Independent. Her wildness is the best part I loved about her. I quite enjoyed her character development throughout. I really liked the slow transition of her from a curious little girl to a strong woman. I also liked Dunya! She’s really a great grandmotherly character. I enjoyed her relationship with Vasya and how much she cared for her. Pyotr is a good father who loves his daughter but I wouldn’t say he was a great father figure and there were some things he did that made me not like him. Vasya siblings were not bad either. They really care for her sister even though they hate her wild behavior. The frost demon was a very intriguing and mysterious character. We still don’t know much about him but I’m very curious to know all the secrets he was hiding. Father Constantine was my least favorite character. He was a total prick and I just wish that he would disappear from the story. I also enjoyed the supernatural spirits especially domovoi(house hold spirit) and Vazila(spirit protecting horses). They are a bit creepy but they’re total fun characters.
It’s a character driven story that has a huge fairytale vibe to it. Although the pacing was slow and there’s not much action in the book, I was still hooked to the plot because I really enjoyed seeing Vasya growing up from a wild kid to a strong young woman. People who love character driven plots will definitely love this book. The culture, religion, the exotic wintry setting, and the supernatural elements are the other aspects that held my interest. The religious theme seemed a bit too much sometimes but I didn’t mind it. The story was told in third person pov and I’m glad that we get to enjoy the story from different perspectives. The world building was totally stunning! I totally fell in love with the beautiful scenery the author has created. Her vivid and lyrical writing style will take you to her enchanting imaginary world filled with magic and adventure.
Overall, it was a fantastic and Magical read! I’m so glad this was a trilogy because I really want to explore more of this world. This book also makes a perfect winter read. If you haven’t read this yet then I highly suggest you to pick this up asap. There isn’t any cliffhanger at the end but Vasya’s story hasn’t ended yet. Her real adventure starts in the next book and I can’t wait to read it.
I highly recommend this book to everyone who loves character driven fantasy books with strong heroine. It’s not a fast paced action packed fantasy read but it’s still a must read for every fantasy lovers.
MY RATING:[4.5/5 Stars]
So, What do you think of this book? Have you read this yet? Do you want to read it?
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