The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale

A Novel

Book - 2017
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"A magical debut novel for readers 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 marriage or confinement in a convent. As danger circles nearer, 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. Advance praise for The Bear and the Nightingale : "An extraordinary retelling of a very old tale. A Russian setting adds unfamiliar spice to the story of a young woman who does not rebel against the limits of her role in her culture so much as transcend them. The Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderfully layered novel of family and the harsh wonders of deep winter magic."--Robin Hobb, bestselling author of the Fitz and the Fool trilogy. "A beautiful deep-winter story, full of magic and monsters and the sharp edges of growing up."--Naomi Novik, bestselling author of Uprooted"--Provided by publisher.
"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, Pytor hides the gift away and 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."--
Publisher: New York : Del Rey, [2017]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781101885932
1101885939
9780399593284
0399593284
Branch Call Number: FIC ARDEN 2017
Characteristics: 322 pages ; 25 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Arden’s supple, sumptuous first novel transports the reader to a version of medieval Russia where history and myth coexist.

“We journey to 14th century Russia where the old ways still hold sway in the outlying villages and spirits and magical creatures are real. When Vasya’s stepmother and the new village priest try to end the pagan offerings, it us up to Vasya to stop the Bear from awakening. Can she find the strengt... Read More »


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DazzlingMoonlight
Oct 18, 2019

A beautifully imagined combination of Russian folklore and historical fiction. This is the first book in an amazing trilogy that gets better with each novel; The Girl in the Tower followed by the heroic conclusion in The Winter of the Witch. Magnificent to read, even more impressive to listen to on audio.

JCLSamS Sep 18, 2019

There are so many things I enjoyed about this novel: the setting of a remote medieval Russian village, the emphasis on Russian folklore and the creatures that appear in those tales, the main character Vasya, who is fierce and wild, and the historical realism. Still, there was something missing in it for me that I can't completely place my finger on. I wasn't sold on the romance element in the story and something feels off about the pacing, making the story structure not quite fit. Still a worthwhile read and an original story.

l
lorraineacasas
Aug 12, 2019

This was such a great read!!! I HIGHLY recommend it!! Arden’s writing was luring, fantastical! The title of the novel is perfect and its chapter headings are appropriate. I also loved all the characters (and their names) - but most especially Dunya, Pyotr, Morozko, and (of course) Vasilisa. I thought that the novel had a good ending (left me satisfied), yet I still feel excited that there is a whole series ahead. Beautifully written fairy tale! I can’t believe this is Arden’s first book. Well done! A TRUE 5-STAR NOVEL!

CMLibrary_sdeason Jun 03, 2019

What a wonderful book!! Using literary tools from Russian fairy tales, the author creates a great book for modern readers. The main character is both a mystery and entertaining forcing you to seek out the other books in the trilogy!

s
starkshadow
Jun 01, 2019

Most of the books I’ve read recently have been just okay, but nothing that truly gripped my attention and only let go long after the book was finished. Some were definitely page-turners, but the characters were lackluster, the writing choppy and bland, the setting overused. This book changed that. It has everything I like in books: atmospheric writing that doesn’t fall into purple prose, unusual and fascinating setting, magic, folklore, and mysterious characters. All of the characters had understandable motivations, even the not-very-likable ones. Vasilisa was a captivating and lovable heroine who I can’t wait to read more about, although my favorite character was probably Morozko, the frost-demon. I also liked the strong feminist themes. Altogether a great book, 10/10 would recommend!

m
misterwisp
May 26, 2019

I felt like a kid again with this book (In a good way). Initially it truly feels like a fairy tale and creates that sense of wonder.

The writing is beautiful and among other things does a great job evoking harsh Russian winters, the lurking fears of the family and townspeople, and the personalities of the characters and what drives them. It's a world you can readily get lost in.

The plot is a very slow burn. It`s fairly clear what events are leading towards for most of the book so it was frustrating to only get a very small slice of quick resolution at the end. However I think that is highly subject to personal preference. The rest of the book does a good job gradually heightening the tension and terror. It was done well, I just got a little impatient with it.

I loved the heavy use of Russian folklore and culture. The author must have struck pretty closely to naming traditions because there were variations on each characters name depending on the way someone else was talking to them. This was initially a little confusing but more because of not having seen anything like it before. It`s obvious who is being spoken to though.
Also...they`re pretty hard on Christians in this book. Not unfairly I thought. I enjoyed the theme of old traditions versus new ones. If you`re easily put off though you probably won`t like it!

j
JanetPDX
May 25, 2019

I just picked up The Girl in the Tower. Can't wait to know what happens next.

"Now hear me. Before the end, you will pluck snowdrops at midwinter, die by your own choosing, and weep for a nightingale."

p
Palomino
Apr 14, 2019

A one-eyed man, a bear, a storm. It's told like a myth, the way Neil Gaiman writes sometimes. It's been ages since I read a book with a talking horse, and even longer since it was a Good Book. Highly recommended!

l
lilyandbear
Mar 08, 2019

Interesting and lots of potential but did not quite scratch my itch.

DBRL_ANNEG Jan 23, 2019

Magical tale set in a wintery, medieval Russia. This is a world where the creatures of fairy tales actually exist (and if you're lucky, help out with chores around the house--I really need a Domovoi in my life!) It is also very much grounded in the realities of the time--girls who faced life in a convent or an arranged marriage, the religious zealots fighting against the old-time beliefs, and the age-old struggles of royal families to take over or maintain power over the throne.

I was enthralled by this book; it was the perfect book for a long, cold weekend and I'm glad it's the first in a trilogy.

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ArapahoeKatieK May 23, 2018

ArapahoeKatieK thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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ArapahoeKatieK May 23, 2018

A story about Russian folklore. A girl is born to a Russian landowner in the middle of winter and there is something special about her. A tomboy from an early age, she spends her first decade and a half figuring out who she really is and how to use her abilities, how to fight evil, and how to keep her family safe.

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