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The Bear and the Nightingale
by Katherine Arden


Overview - NATIONAL BESTSELLER - A magical debut novel for readers of Naomi Novik's Uprooted , Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus , and Neil Gaiman's myth-rich fantasies, The Bear and the Nightingale spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice.  Read more...

 
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More About The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
 
 
 
Overview
NATIONAL BESTSELLER - A magical debut novel for readers of Naomi Novik's Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman's myth-rich fantasies, The Bear and the Nightingale spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice.

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn't mind--she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse's fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa's mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa's new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa's stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed--this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse's most frightening tales.

Praise for The Bear and the Nightingale

"Vasya is] a clever, stalwart girl determined to forge her own path in a time when women had few choices."--The Christian Science Monitor

"Stunning . . . will enchant readers from the first page. . . . with an irresistible heroine who wants only to be free of the bonds placed on her gender and claim her own fate."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Utterly bewitching . . . a lush narrative . . . an immersive, earthy story of folk magic, faith, and hubris, peopled with vivid, dynamic characters, particularly clever, brave Vasya, who outsmarts men and demons alike to save her family."--Booklist (starred review)

"Arden's supple, sumptuous first novel transports the reader to a version of medieval Russia where history and myth coexist."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Radiant . . . a darkly magical fairy tale for adults, but] not just for those who love magic."--Library Journal

"An extraordinary retelling of a very old tale . . . The Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderfully layered novel of family and the harsh wonders of deep winter magic."--Robin Hobb

"A beautiful deep-winter story, full of magic and monsters and the sharp edges of growing up."--Naomi Novik

"Haunting and lyrical, The Bear and the Nightingale tugs at the heart and quickens the pulse. I can't wait for her next book."--Terry Brooks

"The Bear and the Nightingale is a marvelous trip into an ancient Russia where magic is a part of everyday life."--Todd McCaffrey

"Enthralling and enchanting--I literally couldn't put it down."--Tamora Pierce

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781101885932
  • ISBN-10: 1101885939
  • Publisher: Del Rey Books
  • Publish Date: January 2017
  • Page Count: 336
  • Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Fantasy - General
Books > Fiction > Magical Realism
Books > Fiction > Literary

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-07-04
  • Reviewer: Staff

Arden’s debut is an earthy, beautifully written love letter to Russian folklore, with an irresistible heroine who wants only to be free of the bonds placed on her gender and claim her own fate in 14th-century Russia. Vasilisa “Vasya” Petrovna’s mother, Marina, died while giving birth to her. Her father, Pyotr Vladimirovich, loves her; he also resents her for his beloved wife’s death. But Marina made Pyotr promise to take good care of Vasya, saying that she was special, and indeed she is. While her father and brothers seek marriage arrangements among royalty in Moscow, Vasya, now a teenager, refuses to be married off; instead she wanders the verdant woods of her father’s rural estate, communing with spirits of home, wood, and water. When a young, arrogant priest is sent to her village, the people turn away from their old ways, and the spirits that keep them safe begin to fade. It’s up to Vasya to protect them, but her father marries Anna, the daughter of Grand Prince Ivan II, who believes the wood spirits are demons and wants to kill Vasya or confine her to a convent as punishment for consorting with them. As a fierce winter storm rages, Vasya must save her family while embracing the magic that lives inside her. The stunning prose (“The blood flung itself out to Vasya’s skin until she could feel every stirring in the air”) forms a fully immersive, unusual, and exciting fairy tale that will enchant readers from the first page. Agent: Paul Lucas, Janklow and Nesbit. (Jan.)

 
BookPage Reviews

When folklore proves true

In her first novel, The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden has created a coming-of-age story rooted in folklore, set in the Russian wilderness and surrounded by the magic of winter. 

In 14th-century Russia, Vasya is an unusual girl—wild and strong, perceptive and brave—who grew up captivated by her family’s frightening tales and legends. But when Vasya finds the stories to be true, and realizes she has special and coveted abilities, she must protect her family from ancient dangers long believed to be fairy tales.

Arden masterfully portrays the unbridled freedom of her young heroine, as ominous forces loom and the tension heightens between the old ways of the village and the new official religion of Orthodox Christianity. Vasya and her family live in a world of beeswax and wine, of warm ovens and deep sleep, described in gorgeous and lyrical prose. At the novel’s core lies a wonderfully woven family tapestry, with generations of sibling friendship, ancestral insight and marital love.

Arden, who has a B.A. in French and Russian literature, spent a year living and studying in Moscow, and her background in Russian culture delivers an added layer of authenticity. She includes a note concerning her transliteration process and a glossary of terms at the end, lending more context to this textured, remarkable blend of history and fantasy. 

A commanding opening of an enchanting new series, The Bear and the Nightingale is a must-read for lovers of history, fairy tales and whirlwind adventures. With an unforgettable setting and an exceptional female protagonist, this literary fantasy is a spellbinding winter read.

RELATED CONTENT: Read a Q&A with Katherine Arden.

This article was originally published in the January 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews