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Publisher's Summary

Random House presents the unabridged downloadable audiobook edition of The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, read by Kathleen Gati.

A young woman's family is threatened by forces both real and fantastical in this debut novel inspired by Russian fairy tales.

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of Northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift - a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, the father hides the gift away, and his daughter, Vasya, grows up a wild, willful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.

Atmospheric and enchanting, with an engrossing adventure at its core, The Bear and the Nightingale is perfect for fans of Naomi Novik's Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus and Neil Gaiman.

©2017 Katherine Arden (P)2017 Random House AudioBooks

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  • S
  • 03-19-17

Shades of good and bored

This book has some hints of Neil Gaiman's dark fantastical plots and characters, which is what initially drew me to listening to it. I loved the Russian lore and landscape which when coupled with a strong female protagonist are the dynamic force of this story. I also found it interesting how on a backdrop of seemingly childish (but actually quite dark) stories about demons and wood sprites many questions of the human condition rose to the surface. Religion, female emancipation, misidentification and most importantly fear. This is powerful and clever. I loved being introduced to the creatures of Russian mythology and their presence and influence is what reminds me of Gaimen's style. Sadly there is something missing and it took me a while to get into this book. The first part, although setting the story, I found really boring and stopped to listen to another audiobook. I came back and was pleased I did for the middle part of the book. The narrator although good might have contributed to the boredom with her tone. She captured the characters really well and her Russian names were faultless but there was something in her narration which when coupled with a story that feels like it's going nowhere in the beginning made me loose interest. Get past part one of this book and it gets a lot better and much for engaging and fun. If the book started from part two I would give it 4 stars.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Bethany Kelly
  • 02-23-17

Capitivating

I loved everything about this book, just the thing for winter listening. The bleakness of life in the Russian wilds woven marvellously with folk magic.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • R. JOHAADIEN
  • 01-25-17

Not my cup of tea

The narrator was good, I just couldn't get over the weird way she pronounced some words. "Shone" said like "lone" or "cone" instead of like "gone". And that word was used a lot in this book. It's the kind of book that uses romantic language and similes, people were forever pouncing like a cat or proudly lifting their chin or being challenging like a stallion etc. And I just don't like that kind of thing unless there's a good undercurrent of normalcy and humour to offset it.

I really liked uprooted, by naomi novik, which everyone thinks is similar to this. And it kind of is but I enjoyed and found it much easier to submerge myself in uprooted. I think because the main character felt much more real and the friendship between her and her best friend was awesome. There isn't a relationship like that in this book. The next best fleshed out character is probably the creepy monk or priest obsessed with the main char.

Anyway, it's a lot more like the bird and the sword. If you liked that you'll probably like this one.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • S. Malvik
  • 01-19-18

Why oh why the funny accents?

I really enjoyed the story, but I did not enjoy the narrator. I could get used to her regular narration though it’s distracting, but why - when everyone are Russian and the story takes place in Russia, give them all funny accents unless it was to signify they speak Russian poorly? Sorry. I’d rather read this book on paper.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Susu Bird
  • 01-15-18

Fairytale feminism

Perhaps better suited to a younger audience, I enjoyed sinking into a world of Russian fairytale with a feminist twist and wished it for my teenage self, who might have learned from views on marriage as well as what makes things sacred verses false worship.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Little White Elephant
  • 01-12-18

great story - glad it's a trilogy

really enjoyed this, have powered through it over the last few days! glad the second part of the trilogy is out in a few weeks!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Suswati
  • 10-29-17

A dark epic fairytale

This captivating fantasy is set in the frozen north of Russia in the 13th century, and used Russian myths and fairy tales as inspiration. 

At the centre of the novel is the family of a local Lord, in particular the headstrong youngest daughter Vasya who is gifted with 'second sight'. The existence of the community is threatened when a dark power in the forests begins to wake up, just as the villagers start to turn away from the household spirits who've protected them, in favour of a charismatic new priest.

The Russian setting adds interest and mystique and the protagonist Vasya is fantastically outspoken and scrappy. The plot is easy to follow despite the odd Russian word. It truly is a compelling read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachel
  • 06-12-17

loved it!

it shows the old spiritualism of house and tree spirit's which lived alongside Christianity very well until a change in consciousness around the medieval times. very beautifully written.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Deborah Seton
  • 04-05-17

Engaging and atmospheric

A very enjoyable story that was involving and atmospheric.

I liked the performance of the narrator who brought the characters to life. The only reason I didn't give 5 stars was that I believe I would have enjoyed this book more in print. That's nothing to do with the performance - just that some books are better when enjoyed slowly and more intimately with the printed word - especially in this genre.

Don't be put off by the idea of this being a fairy tale - it kind of is, but not - it's a different spin on the genre and not at all childish, but with many deep, rich themes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mrs. Mary Y. Berry
  • 03-17-17

Didnt want it to end

the story is fantastic the narrator is fantastic... the story is brought to life so much that i could see each person in my mind .... it has so many wonderful charaters in the story i would highly recommed it

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-25-17

The Princes Ransom

Really cool story. A Russian Fairy Tale that unravels itself into a traditional Russian family.
It's captivating, but at the end I thought it took on a modern battle which...may have degraded the delacacy of this story. I felt as the reader I was always trying to understand my characters better but they always seemed to be in the dark mist and faraway. Probably because of the mystery behind the whole story.
Pretty cool though. It'd be a freaky movie. but loved the book. Full if Mystery and intrigue.
I would read it again.
-Z

1 of 1 people found this review helpful