Where do I even start?! I’ve written about «The Bear and the Nightingale» in so many posts by now! December Wrap Up, Top Reads of 2016. I commented on every post about this book, because I LOVE IT SO MUCH!
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.
Published: January 12, 2017
You all wonder WHY I loved it so much, right? (Say yes to avoid any awkwardness. Thank you):
1 – Russian folklore and fairy tales! This books made me travel back in time and feel 5 years old again! You know, the age when you’ve slowly started reading on your own but still love it when adults read you out loud your favourite fairy tales? Exactly how I felt! Because all the creatures mentioned in the book: russalka, domovoi, lechiy – I used to believe in them and hear stories full of familiar creatures.
2 – The usage of Russian words throughout the story. Some words are just difficult to translate and even if you do well, they might still lose their original taste and meaning. I wonder though, if these words confused any of you (non-russian) so you had to constantly check the glossary at the back of the book?
3 – The story was not a light-hearted fairy tale I must say! There were darker things, evil creatures lurking around, in dark corners, under the stove, or maybe even under your bed. (are you scared yet? because I sure was at some points of the book! SPOOKY)
4 – A take on paganism and christianity and how they coexisted together. Honestly, I never thought about these creatures or believing in these creatures as paganism. Obviously they were never truly real for me, and maybe during the times described in the book they were taken a bit more seriously. The collision between these different faith was amazingly written! Interesting, captivating and very eventful.
5 – Unanswered questions! Will there be a sequel?? Because I was left with so many question marks in my head! There were so many things that weren’t completely explained. All I know is I AM IN A DESPERATE NEED FOR MORE!
Finally, what I also found fascinating was Katherine Arden’s background and what pushed her into writing about Russian folklore. Make sure to check this INTERVIEW if you are interested in finding out more about the author.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ / 5
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Random House UK, Ebury Publishing and it in no way influenced my opinion about this book. The first thing I did after finishing the ARC is ordering the finished physical copy! I just need this book on my shelves!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments down below what your thoughts are about the whole “Russian folklore” thing!