A magical debut novel for listeners of Naomi Novik's Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman's myth-rich fantasies, The Bear and the Nightingale spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice.
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.
©2017 Katherine Arden (P)2017 Random House Audio
"Stunning...will enchant readers from the first page...with an irresistible heroine who wants only to be free of the bonds placed on her gender and claim her own fate." (Publishers Weekly)
"Utterly bewitching...a lush narrative...an immersive, earthy story of folk magic, faith, and hubris, peopled with vivid, dynamic characters, particularly clever, brave Vasya, who outsmarts men and demons alike to save her family." (Booklist)
"Arden's supple, sumptuous first novel transports the reader to a version of medieval Russia where history and myth coexist." (Kirkus Reviews)
This was such a wonderful story that I honestly got lost in it and it was unlike any book I have read. It was also familiar, in a way, and reminded me of stories my own grandmother used to tell me when I was little. This is a story with a strong protagonist, rich characters and an enchanting story that proves you are never too old for fairy tales. I would recommend it to anyone, but especially someone who loves folktales and especially on a cold night with warm tea handy!
Reading other reviews, I was pleased to see several mentions of Naomi Novik's "Uprooted" in comparison to this fantasy. The language is lovely, not stilted, and the descriptions sit in a satisfactory way in the mouth. The narrator of the audiobook version did a wonderful Russian accent, not too heavy in the vowels, not hard to follow. I thoroughly enjoyed the story.
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I have never heard a Russian Fairytale before and this was a well written wonderfully colorful tale. Enjoy it a lot, very entertaining, thank you
This novel of Russian Folklore is beautifully written with smooth narration. Arden paints a great mental landscape with rich descriptions Russia and it's culture. If this is a fairy tale, it is an adult fairy tale.
The atmosphere is similar to Marillier's "Blackthorn and Grim," Joyce's "Some Kind of Fairy Tale," and "The Snow Child."
I love books that grab my attention from page one and maintain it until I hear "Audible hopes you have enjoyed this program." The Bear and the Nightingale did that for me.
Epic, Wonderful, Divine!
If you love fairy tales, especially Russian fairy tales you will really love this book! The setting is the harsh winter of Russia long ago, when women were thought of as property and their place was in the kitchen or giving the men good Russian sons.
From the very beginning author Arden pulls you into this book. Her language, her authenticity to Russian culture is wonderful. Vasilisa, is the main character in the story. She can see things that other people cannot, a gift passed down by her mother. She really never thinks anything of this gift until circumstances in her life make her think twice about being so open about it.
I really related to Vasilisa, she is a wild untamed spirit. She does not like to be told what to do by anyone. She has trouble conforming to the world, as well as, the expectations of others around her. Just a free soul, that has no fear. This reminded me of myself when I was younger.
I loved how much detail the author gave me, I knew the details of things that were important and was left to use my imagination for things that were not. I loved the other characters. I felt the emotions of all the characters love, distain, confusion, greed, comfort, passion, fear. The writing of this book is just epic.
I really loved how the author took fairy tales and threw them into real life so as the reader, at first, you think these are just stories. But as you read more and more, you realize that the stories being told are true to life.
Characters I didn't like, Anna (fathers new wife), the nurse, and the priest. I also felt some parts although needed in the story just dragged a bit. However, overall this was a wonderful read. I cannot wait to read the next book in this series. I'm so disappointed that I have to wait until next year. I will be reading more of author Katherine Arden, I really fell in love with her writing. And I love fairy tales. I also have a huge interest now in Russian Fairy Tales!
She was an awesome narrator, I could have never pronounced all the Russian names in this epic book!
Yes, but I have children so I could not.
Maybe. I really didn't enjoy this book at all. I kept thinking, okay, what's next. But nothing ever really stood out to me as good. Narrator did a good job. I kept listening. I did have to keep rewinding and starting parts over and over because my mind would wonder, but I blame that on the story not narrator.
Disappointment. I had high hopes because of the great reviews, but this story really didn't have the magical, mystical parts I enjoyed. Maybe it's the witch concept I didn't like. I can't pinpoint the reason, it just didn't work for me.
Writing was good, I thought she did a good job describing things. I just didn't like the story at all. It had a few moments of promise that didn't work out. I listen to anywhere from 3 to 5 books a week. And I usually like them. There are a few that really don't work at all and this was one of them. Sorry. I just completely disagree with the reviews stating this was great.
I loved how easy the author made it to step into the cold, dark woods of Norther Russia, how immersive and real the experience was, as though instead of peering into a snowglobe and watching, we were instead in the swirling drifts among the trees, breathing the same air.
I also loved Vasilisa's stubbourness, hehe. It would not have been an enjoyable story if she had always done as she'd been told. She's a good female protagonist. I appreciated especially the ending and the choice she made, probably because I wanted the same and would have been heartbroken had it been any different.
Vasilisa's brother who stood by her until the end was my favourite. :D I admire his bravery and loyalty. It brought a feeling of comfort and relief every time he believed in her when everyone else turned away.
Her voice was low and smooth, velvet like smoke. It was a perfect match to the setting, and to bring to life the creatures that dwelt just beyond the awareness of the woodfolk. She gave the characters voices with emotion that brought to life their faces as they spoke.
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