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Book Review – The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Inspired by a Russian fairy tale, The Bear & the Nightingale is a stunningly atmospheric story for lovers of myths and legends.

Vasya is wild and wilful and her friends are the spirits.  In the Northern parts of darkest Russia, where the winters are long and cruel, and the summers short and full of endless work, Pyotr Vladimirovich dwells with his family.  Related to the Prince of Serpukhov in Moscow, they have standing in the small community.  But as Vasya grows wilder by the seasons there are murmurs that the witch should be sent away.

Like all true fairy tales there is a wicked stepmother, one who herself borders on the edge of madness.  She makes Vasya’s life miserable, but there is Dunya to wrap her arms around her and tell her tales of sorcery and of the Winter King, who comes for maidens who are wild.

This is definitely a young adult book aimed at girls, having said that I’m 59 and thoroughly enjoyed it!  Still, there is the Winter King, tall dark and handsome, sometimes cruel sometimes kind, and the young maiden who must fight against the constraints of normality and the tradition of being married off young whether she likes it or not.

As a Christian I found Konstantin Nikonovich’s character a bit disturbing, a sinful priest that brings sadness to the town.  His character was counteracted by Vasya’s lovely brother Sasha who becomes a monk to do good.

Currently Amazon’s Editor’s Pick with 3.717 reviews on .com and a 4.6 star rating. USA $9.00, UK £4.99

Review warning: Before you rush off and buy any book that someone reviews you should read the free sample chapters provided on Amazon, this way you can decide for yourself if this book is your cup of tea or not.  Happy reading everyone!

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