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The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 10, 2017

4.5 out of 5 stars 134 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (January 10, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1101885939
  • ISBN-13: 978-1101885932
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Vasilisa Petrovna never knew her mother, Marina, who died not long after giving birth to her, but she inherited her mother’s gift: the ability known as second sight. Able to see and commune with the various guardians of the houses and forest, Vasilisa, known as Vasya, spends her child and teen years exploring and running wild through the forest of her father’s land. Nature is kept in balance and Vasya enjoys the company of the various guardians until one day a stranger arrives in town, and the changes he sets in place begin to tip the order of things. A beast, known as the bringer of storms, has awoken and, with the unintentional help of this stranger, has begun to slip the control which his brother, Morozko, Lord of Winter has over him. Soon a battle will take place between the two brothers and Vasya is the key.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Other reviewers have given an overview of the plot of the book, so let me just add my impressions. The last time I read a book as breathtaking, gripping, and multi-layered as this was when I spent an entire Christmas holiday obsessively reading all 3 volumes of Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. In fact, Katherine Arden's style is very similar to Undset's, weaving cultural history and tradition, familial and romantic relationships, clashing religious beliefs, superstition, and picturesque prose in an engaging saga. Arden has many unique elements to her style, however, and the book lives and breathes Russia as though the author and her ancestors had been natives for generations. Fairy tale, myth, folklore, drama, romance, history, tragedy, it's all here, woven through the lives of vivid characters in a lush, unforgettable setting. Buy this book and plan to spend your winter nights reading it by the fireside, with the embers slowly dying while you forget how many hours have passed.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Arden starts out by evoking the feeling of sitting in a little house by a warm oven, in a cold Russian winter in the past, listening to a fairytale and, quite skillfully, drawing us into a fairytale that is far more elaborate. Starting a fairytale with a fairytale proves to be an excellent technique for setting the mood. I’ve read a fair amount of Russian literature and history and this feels so authentic. The writing is well done and really creates the feeling of a fairytale with great depth. That is why I loved this book. Fairytales are fascinating for their unique plots, but usually lack in depth and how well they are told – Arden does such a wonderful job with all of these factors and weaves quite a spell over the reader.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Wait for a cold winter night to read this. Get a blanket and a cup of tea and let this book take you to medieval Russia. This beautifully written book brings breathes life into an old Russian fairy tale. I'm having a hard time believing this is a debut novel. The pace is perfect fairy tale pace. Subplots are expertly woven in. The characters are complex. Fantasy is interwoven with history. The writing is beautiful and descriptive without being tedious. (I find so much "beautiful" writing to be tedious, but Arden captures the mood exquisitely). Most importantly, the story grabs you and pulls you in and doesn't let go.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In her debut novel, Katherine Arden uses her knowledge of Russian culture and mythology to their maximum potential. Vivid imagery, intense sequences, supernatural beings affecting the actions of human characters make “The Bear and the Nightingale” a compelling story. The unique setting and the use of an unusual, unfamiliar historical period and setting draw the adventurous reader into the narrative. The bravery and spirit of the main character Vasilisa Petronova – Vasya – drive the action and are keys to the conflict and the outcome of this novel.

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.
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