Review – The Bear and the Nightingale


The Bear and the Nightingale


The Winternight Trilogy #1


Katherine Arden




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.


3.5stars rating

This a short review, this time.


I really didn’t know what to expect from this book, and while it felt like it was +500 pages instead of 319, the story itself was good. Part Russian fairy tale but at the same time also a story of how Christianity brought fear and distrust among those that followed God and those that still honored the spirits of old.
This is only part 1 of a trilogy, and it has an open ending, but the story arc of that installment is done, so it doesn’t feel like you’re going to murder the author for leaving you on a cliff.

Character development:

The characters were very well written. They were diverse, had plenty of depth, and we got to know them all reasonably well. I especially love how the spirits were portrayed. They were so intertwined with their purpose, and they reflected that beautifully.

Pacing & Flow:

The book was difficult to get into. It started slow and pretty much only picked up the pace around the 75% mark. But in the end, it was worth it. Setting the stage and the ambiance was needed to get to that point where we were running with Vasya in the forest.

Final Thoughts:

If you’re in the mood for something totally different and want to try it… you won’t be disappointed 🙂