- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 11 hours and 48 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: January 10, 2017
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01MRSYOEJ
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel Audiobook – Unabridged
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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.
There are two main conflicts in the story. One is between two brothers, both spirits of Winter and Death, but one relatively benign and the other essentially evil. The other, which I found the more interesting of the two, was the conflict between the traditional pagan beliefs of the Northern people, featuring different spirits that guard homes, horses, forest, and more, and the relatively new and monotheistic Christianity, here presented (in the form of charismatic priest Father Konstantin) as primarily a religion of fear. The contrast is vividly presented in the difference between Vasya (Vasilisa) and her stepmother, Anna Ivanovna, the only two characters who can see the spirits: Vasya finds most of them friendly and treats them with kindness and respect, but to Anna, obsessed with the new religion, they are all demons.
The story focuses on Vasya’s learning how to deal with both of these conflicts and their consequences as she grows to maturity, but it also develops a third, somewhat less obvious conflict: between Vasya’s independent personality, as free and nature-oriented as those of the spirits she befriends, and the very limited range of roles and behavior considered acceptable for women of her time and place, even those who, like herself, belong to a basically loving and relatively well-to-do family. She earns her fairy-tale ending, but I wondered what she would have done if she had not had magic to help her.