She looked like a wild thing new-caught and just barely groomed into submission.
This is not a YA book. The Bear and the Nightingale is an adult fantasy read.
I was interested in this book because of The Orangutan Librarian’s review of The Bear and The Nightingale. Other than her praise, almost every other review I read spoke so highly of The Bear and The Nightingale I bought the ebook. Like the other 80 some ebooks I purchased over the years, it sat unread for a long time.
To put it simply, this book is enchanting. The Bear and the Nightingale is a slow burn, but not dull. Before long, I found myself flipping through pages anxious to find out how the story ended. The Bear and the Nightingale is a refreshing fantasy read.
Keep in mind this story covers many years. Long ago, in Russia, there lived a girl named Vasya. She was born to Pyotr and Marina. Before her birth, Marina dreamt she would carry the gift known to their family bloodline. And that Vasya does.
Years after Marina’s death, Pyotr leaves to find a new wife. His young bride is a devout Christian woman who forbids worshiping the household spirits/old ways Vasya has grown to love. Vasya ignores her step-mother’s wishes and continues to honor the household spirits. This and Vasya’s unusual behavior causes problems.
Vasya feels the fear gather in the village and the forest. The spirits around her start to worry, warning her of a coming evil. Crops die, people die, and corpses rise from the dead. Vasya tries to keep things under control, while her step-mother tries to get rid of her.
During her step-mother’s final attempt to send her away, Vasya runs to the forest. She must use her powers to not only save herself but her home. Vasya learns about herself, the woods, and the truth behind her favorite childhood stories.
SO, should you read it?
Yes! I think The Bear and the Nightingale embodies a magical experience that is hard to find. If you like fairy tales, medieval societies, and magic, this is the book for you. Arden crafts an enchanting story, pulling from Russian lore and history. Again, this is not a YA book. The Bear and the Nightingale is an adult fantasy book. There are mature themes and religious tension.
That being said, As much as I loved this book, I can say with confidence The Bear and the Nightingale is not for everyone. Arden writes of a time long ago in Russia. Her story is filled with Ruissa lore that a reader may not be familiar with. The Bear and the Nightingale is not written from one clear perspective. You know exactly who the main character is, but you see the story from the eyes of different characters. This is in no set order, instead of who is essential at the time. Arden’s loose narrative was refreshing, but some might find it frustrating.
Overall, I loved this book. I hope you find the same magic I did if you decide to read this book.
Other Reviewers who sold me on the book:
Have you read The Bear and the Nightingale? If so, did you go on to read the rest of the series? Do you want to read it? Let me know!