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The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 10, 2017
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An Amazon Best Book of January 2017: There's a small but mighty space where fantasy and literary fiction can clasp hands and create a brilliant story that resonates in the soul. The Bear and the Nightingale lives squarely in that space, and those who dare to visit this novel will leave entranced. Set in the fourteenth century in the bitter north, a two-week ride from the rough city of Moscow, this mesmerizing tale centers on Vasya Petronova, a girl who barely survives birth (her mother doesn't) and grows up with a secret affinity for the sprites and demons that live in and around her village. "A wild thing new-caught and just barely groomed into submission" is how her father imagines her, and he's not wrong. As her family tries to harness her into the typical domestic life of a young noblewoman, Vasya spends more and more time among the sprites and soon gets caught between two old and powerful gods struggling for domination over her part of the world. Arden's debut novel builds like a thunderstorm, with far-off disquieting rumblings that escalate into a clash between sprites and humans, ancient religions and new, honor and ambition. If you haven't picked up a Russian-style novel lately, it can take a few chapters to recall that each character has a handful of nicknames you have to keep track of and that various storylines may take their time in weaving back into the main plot, but it's well worth the effort. And while I think there are only a dozen or so novels in this world that have a perfect ending, I would put The Bear and the Nightingale high on that list. --Adrian Liang, The Amazon Book Review
Advance praise for The Bear and the Nightingale
“Stunning . . . will enchant readers from the first page. . . . with an irresistible heroine who wants only to be free of the bonds placed on her gender and claim her own fate.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Utterly bewitching . . . a lush narrative . . . an immersive, earthy story of folk magic, faith, and hubris, peopled with vivid, dynamic characters, particularly clever, brave Vasya, who outsmarts men and demons alike to save her family.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Arden’s supple, sumptuous first novel transports the reader to a version of medieval Russia where history and myth coexist.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Radiant . . . a darkly magical fairy tale for adults, [but] not just for those who love magic.”—Library Journal
“An extraordinary retelling of a very old tale . . . A Russian setting adds unfamiliar spice to the story of a young woman who does not rebel against the limits of her role in her culture so much as transcend them. The Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderfully layered novel of family and the harsh wonders of deep winter magic.”—Robin Hobb
“A beautiful deep-winter story, full of magic and monsters and the sharp edges of growing up.”—Naomi Novik
“Haunting and lyrical, The Bear and the Nightingale tugs at the heart and quickens the pulse. I can’t wait for Katherine Arden's next book.”—Terry Brooks
“The Bear and the Nightingale is a marvelous trip into an ancient Russia where magic is a part of everyday life.”—Todd McCaffrey
“Enthralling and enchanting—I couldn’t put it down. This is a wondrous book!”—Tamora Pierce
Top Customer Reviews
Debut novelist Katherine Arden has created an enchanted landscape of characters and creatures fighting a terrifying battle to save their woods and people. Arden’s beautifully crafted prose contains a bit of Dracula, a dash of Lewis’ The Monk, some folklore and a touch of Wuthering Heights. It is all of these things, and yet is uniquely Arden’s own brilliant creation at the same time. This is likely the IT book in fantasy for 2017 and is highly addicting reading. The Bear and the Nightingale is one of those perfectly crafted stories that jumps genres and will appeal to large audience outside fantasy as well as in it. (I personally rarely read fantasy, but this one kept me up all night reading.) Beautifully written and possessing a fairytalesque quality, this book is destined to be an instant hit.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
The only critique I have of this book is that I wish it was longer. It is just over 300 pages, well-written, and every scene is excellent. Still, it leaves you wanting more - that's probably a good thing.
On her deathbed, Marina Ivanova tasks the family servant Dunya with the responsibility for her newborn daughter, Vasya. Herself, the daughter of a “witch woman”, Marina has only a little of her mother’s ability; however, she believes Vasya will inherent all her grandmother’s abilities. As the years go by, Vasya learns about the different beings, those who are helpful and those who are dangerous, living in or near her home and in the nearby forest. As she grows, Vasya is able to see and speak with these spirits. The arrival of a stepmother, Anna, becomes a source of conflict; Anna is haunted by the different spirit beings and terrified by their presence. The new priest Konstantin, a gifted painter of icons, views Vasya as dangerous to his celibacy and to her father Pyotr’s lands and people; he wants to drive her from her home through marriage or by having her enter a convent. Only Vasya’s brother Alyosha and her half-sister Irina believe in her. When Vasya escapes those who will carry out Konstantin’s plan for her removal, her unusual abilities become the focus of and the story contained in the remainder of the novel.
Katherine Arden incorporates folklore and the beliefs of pre-Christian Russia into the story.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review The Bear and the Nightingale by... Read more
Let me begin with the fact that I think Russian mythology is great. I regret only that my own people’s mythology could not be preserved in such splendid detail. Read morePublished 10 hours ago by Evelina
This review was originally posted on the Goldilox and the Three Weres blog.
I'm going to be honest here. The first half of this book is slow and full of worldbuilding. Read more
I loved this book. I know nothing of Russian folklore but will attempt to learn more as this fascinating book has piqued my interest. Read morePublished 13 hours ago by Kathleen Shannon
The Bear and the Nightingale
By Katherine Arden
Honestly, it was the cover that first attracted me to this book and then I read the inside... Read more
Beautifully written book. I wanted it to never end. Love that it is set in Rus'. Magical. Wonderful characters. Strong personalities. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Robin Abbate
The Brothers Grimm appropriated many of their classic fairytales from tales handed down all over the world. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Nissanmama
This is very different from my usual genre but I am so glad I gave it a go. I loved it, such a magical book and beautifully written. Read morePublished 1 day ago by M. Driscoll
** Trigger warning for rape and child abuse. **
“What happened?” she asked.
“My fish are gone! Read more