Russia Folklore Retelling – The Bear and the Nightingale {Review}

Posted March 8, 2017 in Reading, Review / 0 Comments

Russia Folklore Retelling – The Bear and the Nightingale {Review}The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Series: The Bear and the Nightingale #1
Publisher: Del Rey (2017)
eARC (322 pages)
Via: NetGalley
Reading Challenges: 2016 Retelling Challenge, 2016 Royal Challenge, Read 2016


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.

Find the book: Goodreads, Amazon, Book Depository

My Review

Yet another book where the cover is absolutely gorgeous. It is just beautiful. I could probably stare at it all day long.

This novel is a wonderful Russian folktale/fairy tale retelling. Russia + folklore + fairy tale = awesome.

Vasilisa (Vasya) is far from a normal girl. We can tell that from her birth. She is destined for something special and doesn’t quite fit the image of a medieval Russia lady. She is strong and unwilling to do what she is told just because she is told to. She is a free spirit in many ways and yet also tied down in others.

The household spirits are so interesting. When they get neglected, Vasya must do her best to keep them alive. For if they die or leave this house… well, maybe the worst will happen. I really love them and their role in the story is rather nice.

I also loved seeing the way Vasya’s father interacted with his children. He can be a bit awkward at times and doesn’t really know how to interact with his children, especially Vasya. Yet, at the same time, it is clear that he really loves his children very much.

This story is rich with details and wonderful settings. Whether you want to nor not, you get pulled into this story. It is brilliant and I cannot wait for the sequel.


I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley for
review consideration. This in no way affects my opinion of the title
nor the content of this review.

Russia is one of my favorite settings. What are some of your favorite settings?

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