My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Netgalley for Review
Genre: Fairy Tale
Book Description: 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.
My thoughts: The Bear and the Nightingale is an engaging read set in medieval Russia. Katherine Arden's writing reminds me of the old style of writing fairy tales. It is dark and enticing. It has an almost poetic feel to it as the lives of the characters and the coinciding fay creatures are described. I was easily draw into the story.
Vasilisa is a young girl who has the "second sight". She readily accepts both worlds and is a bridge of sorts between the two. She keeps the fay happy and protects her people from some of their dangerous ways. She belongs to both worlds and is happy with her role in both.
Tragedy strikes her people when her father takes a new wife and a new Priest comes to shepherd the flock. Both are devout and have zero tolerance for adherence to the old ways. The fay are diminishing, but they protect the humans from danger from stronger fay. Vasilisa is trying to save her people and keep her fay friends around.
As I stated in the first paragraph, the story is dark. It is a fairy tale, but it may be a little too dark for younger readers. There is a little bit of innuendo, but I found it to be clean. The book does contain violence that is non-graphic. It could be unsettling for younger readers.
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About the Author: (Taken from her webpage) Quick version: Infected with wanderlust and with no notions of vocation, I decided to try my hand at a novel. The same novel which you are currently holding. No? Not holding it? Seriously? Then what are you reading this for? Stop screwing around on the Internet and go read something!
Visit her webpage!