Title / The Bear and the Nightingale
Author / Katherine Arden
Publication Date / January 2017
Star Rating / ★★★★
Goodreads synopsis: 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, 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.
I requested this from the publisher and they were kind enough to send me a copy, so thank you to Ebury publishing. I also want to quickly mention how nice the proof copy is – it is stunning. Anyway this is set to be released on the 12th January 2017 and it is a debut novel. I will say right now I think you should get your hands on a copy. This was such a wonderful read. The author does an incredible job of creating a very atmospheric book and the setting was one of my favourite things about it. The fact that this is inspired by Russian folklore was the main thing that interested me in this book, as I haven’t read alot around it and I felt that it was done really well. I am definitely interested in trying out more Russian literature and Russian folklore inspired books because of this book. The characters are all written very well – Vasya was a fantastic female protagonist. All of the characters were flawed, engaging and interesting, although I feel that some were perhaps a little two dimensional. They lacked a little depth, but it is a minor complaint – for the most part I really enjoyed the characters. A quick last note are the names. Each character has different names (or shortened names) so it can be a little tricky to keep track of everyone at the start, as they are switched around quite a bit. Stick with it though, as it does become easier.
I think this is a perfect winter read, where you can curl up next to a fire with a cup of tea or hot chocolate and spend an afternoon/evening reading. It is also quite a quick read for me – I was so engrossed in the story and it moves at quite a fast pace. Having said that, the pacing is a little uneven. The first 3/4 of the book is quite slow and meandering, but the last section moves quite fast. This meant that it felt a little rushed for me. I did still very much enjoy the conclusion though – I am just mentioning them for you guys to be aware of. The book is cleverly written and it was a pleasure reading this story. You can tell the author did a whole load of research for this. The writing is great and I had no trouble getting into the flow of the writing style. The plot is engaging, as well as being entertaining. However it is a little slow at times, as the first part of the story is basically all about their lives in the village. Consequently, this book could have been shorter than it was. I personally think it was a good length, but some may say because not alot happens for a big portion of the book it could therefore be a little shorter. As with everything else, this will come down in personal preference. I enjoyed learning about the lives of these characters but some may find it a little boring.
Overall I would highly recommend this book. The plot was highly enjoyable, as well as being engaging throughout. Although I think it may drag at some points, because it is quite slow at times. I had no such issue. Both the characters and the writing style are great and an added plus is the stunning cover :). Basically I really enjoyed this book, although I have to admit that I am a little disappointed after hearing this is going to be a trilogy. Don’t get me wrong I’ll read the next book, but I thought this made a wonderful standalone and I question why everything seems to be made into a trilogy or series. Maybe that’s just me. I will be continuing on with the trilogy though, as you know I enjoyed this book. If you are a fan of fairy tales, Russian folklore and/or an interesting female protagonist then you should definitely check this out – I think you would love this book. Have you read this, or have you got it on your wishlist? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.