"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

In Arden's debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale, readers are immersed from the very first page in Russian folktales, in the loveliest and riches of ways, too. Set in medieval Russia, the story centers around an indomitable and irresistible heroine,  Vasilisa "Vasya" Petrovna, who has inherited her royal grandmother's understandings about magic and can see and talk to magical creatures no one else can see. She can talk to horses and household spirits, who guard the family house and barns. Vasya's mother died giving birth to her and when her father eventually remarries, her new stepmother can also see the household spirits, but this woman doesn't recognize them for their protective powers, but thinks them evil. Along that same time a new priest is assigned to serve the family. He and the stepmother join together in allegiance against these "demons" with disastrous results for the family and the community.

Vasya is one of those characters that it is impossible not to like. She is determined to do everything her way, including not falling into the conventions of the day for females to only think of themselves as future wives and mothers. Vasya is forever getting in trouble for wandering too far from the house, for climbing trees, for getting dirty. She learns to ride a horse like no man can because she took tutelage from the horse herself. She refuses to call the house spirits "demons" which enrages her stepmother.

The first part of the book is just stuffed full of Russia lore and the lifestyle of people who lived in this very cold part of the world. The second part of the book included lots of action when the twins, Death and Fear, go to war over the heart of Vasya. But even against these foes, Vasya refuses to be bossed around.

I listened to the audio version of the book, read by Kathleen Gati. I loved the whole listening experience. Gati did a magical job with the accents and the difficult to pronounce names. The listening experience was a little like being wrapped up in a fur coat sitting in front of the fire, listening to an elder (like the nurse in the story) tell me a folktale, one she expects me to remember.

I've already recommended this one to my daughter who loves fairy tales.  And now I am recommending it to you.

Past Due Book Reviews

7 / 16 books. 43% done!


  1. Sounds good. Мне нравится это. :-) I was going to do my NaNoWriMo novel this year with a Russian feel to it, but then I was compelled to move into another direction, and I ended up putting that idea in a folder for maybe later.

  2. Loved this one. Reading this book was very much like listening to a good story around the fireplace. I still need to read book 2.

  3. Great review! I’ve had this book sitting on my bookshelves for months but your review is making me want to read it soon! I love fairytales and I find Russia a fascinating place to read about.
    I hope you’re habing a good week so far?
    Christine @ LifeWithAllTheBooks


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