I’ve done it! I’ve been picking up and putting down this book for over half a year now and I have finally completed it!
The Bear and the Nightingale follows the tale of a girl called Vasilisa who lives in the Russian wilderness. She was a peculiar girl who was wild and untamed and liked to while away her hours in the forest talking to sprites and horses. Her family doesn’t understand her and the village folk whispered that she was a witch.
I actually ended up really enjoying the read. I didn’t quite know what I was getting into when I picked it up but I knew there were great reviews for it and I was intrigued. It really reminded me of the old Hans Christening Anderson fairy tales and it almost felt nostalgic in a way, like I’ve heard the story before but had forgotten it.
I absolutely loved Vasilisa’s character. I loved how stubborn and set she is in her ways, and how she rejects the traditional path of being a woman. She doesn’t want to be some man’s mare and get ridden out to pasture in some great house bequeathing children. She is wild and free and loved her family dearly. She will stop at absolutely nothing to ensure that they will survive the winter!
I thought the pacing was a little too slow for my personal tastes. The start especially when Pyotr goes to Russia I felt wasn’t really necessary for me to know. I was more interested in learning more about the Morovoi and what kind of magic Vasilisa inherited from her grandmother. I suppose there was a lot of context learnt that would probably spring up in the next two book but it kind of bored me a little to be honest.
I kind of liked how macabre it was. Katherine Arden didn’t shy away from actually killing people off and showing the consequences of a harsh winter/dry summer. There was a lot of death in this book and it made the stakes a lot higher knowing that there was the possibility that these characters would be susceptible to dying.
I just have so many questions coming away after finishing this book. Who was Vasilisa’s grandmother before she came to Russia? Why does the Winter King help Vasilisa? What will happen to Father Konstantin, will he be held accountable? I’m sure all of my questions will hopefully be answered in the rest of the series and I am excited to continue on and see where the books will go next!
⭐️4/5 stars Whimsical, compelling and frosty!