Review of the Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Updated: Aug 21, 2020
The first book in the Winternight trilogy, this is a Russia-set, ancient-feeling, dark fairy tale of a story.
The first book in Katherine Arden's Winternight trilogy, The Bear and the Nightingale is a Russia-set, ancient-feeling, dark fairy tale of a story that takes place within a small village and follows an extended family.
Pitting "true believers" against dark, feared forces turns what the village believes to be good and pure on its head.
Remembering the old ways, defiance, and bravery triumph over righteousness, blind obedience, and attempts at wielding selfish power over those you can.
A few elements (tying the original appearances of the dark force to later more fully realized appearances, for example) meandered along and I thought they might have been shored up more fully.
But the writing was ethereal and practically brought a chill to my skin as I was reading about the snow and cold danger. And the main protagonist Vasilisa and conflicted priest were irresistible characters.
What did you think?
I'm a sucker for a Russia setting, and Arden brings the landscape to life here. Vivid magic and adventure round out the wonderful story.