The Bear and the Nightingale: {ARC Review}

Publication Date: January 10th, 2016
Publisher: Del Rey
Series: #1
Format: e-ARC
Source: Netgalley

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.

There's a special place in my heart for Russian based books. I honestly could not tell you when my love affair for it happened, but I'm glad it did. 

Let me first say that the first three-quarters of the book were incredibly slow. Not much happened until Vasya became a young woman. On that note, the story starts off before Vasya is born so that we get some background on her family and the setting. Her family lives in  Lesnaya Zemlya, which is located in the very harsh Russian wilderness. Winters are bitter cold and I definitely was glad for the warmth of my bed while reading this book. I believe the book takes place in 14th century Russia, when Mongols were still ruling it, so it was not officially called Russia yet. 

Vasilisa is the main character in TBatN. She inherited a special gift from her mysterious grandmother, who wed a prince. She can see household and forest spirits around her, while others cannot. There is a change happening in Rus'. The divide between the old gods and the new god is becoming even larger, and only those who still believe in the old gods make offerings to those spirits that she can see. 

Life in Lesnaya Zemlya is good for awhile, up until Vasya's encounters a strange one eyed man in the woods. She is rescued by an equally strange man with pale blue eyes upon a beautiful white horse. Years go by and Vasya forgets them, but then her father brings his new wife home, and soon after that a handsome priest arrives. All of these events have now put into motion things that nobody but Vasya can understand, and it's up to her to save them all. 

Once the book's pace picked up, I was hooked. I could not stop reading about this magical cold world. I loved Vasya's character. She was strong and defiant, but not in a way that was bratty. She knew what she want and she was not going to let anyone or anything stand in her way. 

Arden's writing was enchanting and so descriptive that I felt like I was there with Vasya and her family, struggling to stay warm in those harsh winters. You can tell that so much research went into this story. It is set in the real world, but there are those fantasy elements and Russian folklore and myths that blend seamlessly.

When I got to the end of the book, I was immediately clamoring for more Vasya and her adventures. Thankfully, this series will most likely see two more books because the ending was left wide open for more. I look forward to reading about Vasya and even Morozko in the future. 


No comments:

Post a Comment

Follow @ Instagram

Back to Top