The Bear and the Nightingale

25489134“I can help you.”

“Can you? A girl child? Half blooded and untrained?  You know nothing of love or battle or magic.  How exactly can you help me, Vasilisa Petrovna?”

Author: Katherine Arden
Category: Fantasy, Fairy Tale
Pages: 322
Publication Date: January 10th, 2017

Don’t miss this week’s podcast discussion on this book!
In The Bear and the Nightingale, Vasilisa lives her life according to the old Russian gods and local spirits until her stepmother, a devout Christian, uses fear to change everything. Arden pulls together a story that shows to trust in what you believe in and fight for what is right.

This is a wonderful debut for this author.

This story really touches on the dangers of zealotry and ruling and living by fear. You have those people that feel that everyone has to follow what you follow and there are no exceptions. If you believe different, you are wrong.

However, the story really isn’t anti-religion. The story doesn’t seem to be trying to turn people away from Christianity or Catholicism, more just warning against following something that leads her into a life of fear instead of one of peace.

The attention to detail was clearly a big factor in why this book was so interesting. From the Russian folklore, to the simple snowy setting, we were engaged the whole time.

While we don’t know Russian Folklore very much, Arden seems to know what she is talking about and makes it so much fun. She also touches on some feeling about death and fear that really shows what you should be afraid of.  (In a good way)

Without going into spoilers, (that’s what our podcast is for!) the ending is touching and makes a great contrast of strength of character between two characters, one a coward and the other a brave hero. If you are interested in folklore or just a good mythical time, you should really check this one out.

Dani’s 2¢

I’m not sure what I expected going into this. It isn’t the usual type of fantasy that I go for. I almost want to call it “contemporary fantasy.” But I was intrigued by the re-telling of a folklore that I know nothing about.

The dark yet whimsical tone drew me in pretty much from the start. I don’t think this will end up being my favorite book of  the year but I am definitely glad I did not miss it.


8-really liked it

Greg’s thoughts

I didn’t know how I would feel about this one going in but I really enjoyed it. The author does such a good job with the setting and characters that I felt the cold when she mentioned it. I could feel the emotions these characters went through. Just a fun book, like Dani said, not book of the year for me, but it is one I want on my shelf.


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  1. Pingback: Top Books of 2017

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