My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Release Date: 2017
Age Range: Adult
Vasilisa ‘Vasya’ Petrovna has never been a good little Russian girl. She doesn’t always do her duties, she spends hours in the forest, and befriends the household spirits.
Vasya’s small town, at the edge of the forest of northern Rus’ (what Russia was called then), is a place where winter is so long that they spend most of the year in their houses keeping warm by the fire.
Dunya, their nursemaid, tells them stories during the long nights. A favourite is the story of Morozko, or Frost. The Winter King. Vasya loves to hear these stories – but to her that is all they are, fairytales.
When her father remarries, Vasya and her siblings are excited to have a new mother to love them and care for them. But Anna Ivanovna is not the mother they were expecting and with her comes a change for the whole house and thereafter the whole village.
When an evil awakens in the forest, Vasya realizes that perhaps those fairytales she loved were not just stories, and that her whole town is in danger. However, she is the only one who sees the evil for what it is.
Vasya tries her hardest to figure out a way to stop what she knows will destroy them all, but her stepmother, is determined to put an end to her ‘rebellious ways’, turn her into a respectable woman ready for marriage or a convent.
“Fairy tales are sweet on winter nights, nothing more.”
Every moment I spent reading The Bear and the Nightingale was an absolute pleasure. It was magical, atmospheric and very slow paced – so prepare yourself for that if you’re going to be picking this up.
The writing was enchanting and I felt transported through words into this story.
Though this book is mainly about Vasya there are many chapters in POV of other characters and we get to know them as well. Arden gave us complex characters who are not all good. Most were selfish, power hungry and filled with fear.
Vasya was such a joy to read about. I loved her wild nature and refusal to conform to her towns expectations. She was always authentically Vasya and I cannot wait to see her character growth in the sequels.
Other characters I loved were Vasya’s brother Alyosha and her nursemaid Dunya. I found Sasha’s character really interesting and I hope we see him again in the future.
The pacing does pick up towards the end. There were a plenty of scenes that had me teary eyed. There is still so much unexplored and characters (as I’ve mentioned) that I really am excited to get to see again.