The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden



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. (Goodreads)


Do you ever read a book and think, wow, this would be a good movie, but it isn’t a great book?   Well, that’s how I felt about this book. I would love to see all the creatures on the screen, and honestly, this book could use with some parts being cut, it was a little slow.  I also felt like there was a lot of extra information in this book.  

This book had some amazing character and world-building, but the story, for me at least left much to be desired.  I enjoyed Vasilisa’s character and loved that she refused to fit the mold that people wanted her to. There are a lot of veiled comments on society in this book, and I enjoyed them but I could also see this as a turn off for some people. 

In the end, I liked the story, but see no reason to continue with this series. 

Overall Rating: 3

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