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The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel by…
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The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel (edition 2017)

by Katherine Arden (Author)

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5477518,310 (4.15)48
Member:JamesLibrary
Title:The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel
Authors:Katherine Arden (Author)
Info:Del Rey (2017), 336 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

  1. 20
    The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (Iudita)
    Iudita: Beautifully written and based on folklore.
  2. 00
    Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente (flying_monkeys)
    flying_monkeys: Both read like novel-length fairy tales based on Russian folklore. Both embrace their cold, wintry setting to superb effect.
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Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book was amazing! So engaging and entertaining, I couldn't put it down. The writing is beautiful and I learned a lot. Well researched and worth the read. The sequel is coming out soon too and I can't WAIT to read it. Easily 5 out of 5 stars. ( )
  Beammey | Sep 21, 2017 |
Review from Tenacious Reader: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2017/02/13/review-the-bear-and-the-nightingale-by...

3.5/5 Stars

The Bear and the Nightingale is fairy tale, full of both darkness and wonder. It is always enjoyable to come across a book that is both fresh and also seems to capture all those traits that people love in their familiar fairy tales. The prose is beautifully written, which really helps to give the story that feel of folklore.

Now I have to admit, I am embarrassingly under informed on Russian folklore, but its my understanding that many of the elements of this are strongly rooted in it. The good news for anyone else like me (really rather ignorant of Russian Folklore) is the story does a very good job of making sure the reader knows what each thing is (such as a rusalka) and does so in a way that does not feel like info dumping. It is integrated with the story very well and I also found it to be wonderfully interesting.

Vasya is a character that I immediately wanted to root for. As a child she is a bit wild and untamed. The type of girl that will do what she likes rather than what is expected of her. She is type of character you expect to grow up and challenge established expectations related to gender and class. Of course I’m going to love a girl like that.

Religion and ‘the old beliefs’ are both prominent and somewhat at odds with each other. Vasya’s step mother is a Christian, while Vasya’s mother believed in the household spirits and honored the old beliefs. She struggles not just with this, but also with concealed abilities that put her danger.

Now,unfortunately there were a couple of the things that I think kept me from absolutely loving this book as much as others. First, this book started out very strong for me. However, it seemed to suffer from pacing issues and just didn’t hold my attention as well as I would expect, especially given how quickly I was enamored with the prose and setting.

Also, I almost hate to admit it, but I did not love the role of religion, especially fanatical religion. Now to be fair, the book is likely very fair to its historical setting here. I just have to say, I didn’t care for that aspect as much and wished that it had played a much smaller role. Perhaps this is some of my IRL opinions sneaking in, but I just didn’t need all of the fanatical zealots using their religion to spread hate and violence. There’s enough of that in the real world, and I guess I wanted a bit of a break from it in my reading. Again, this is a personal thing, and is one that I would never list as a weakness of the book, but rather an explanation as to why I didn’t love the book more than I did.

Overall, the strength of Arden’s prose and atmosphere really makes her an author worth following. I may have had a few nit picks with this particular book, but over all I did still enjoy it and hope that her next book I have better luck staying fully engaged from beginning to end. ( )
  tenaciousreader | Aug 8, 2017 |
I loved absolutely everything about this book. From the writing, to the characters, and even the harsh descriptions of Russian winters. My favorite books often tend to be fairy tales, and The Bear and the Nightingale is probably one of my new favorites.

This book is perfect to get you through those cold winter months. Dazzling tales of winter spirits and magic really make winter more enjoyable, especially for those who loathe these dreary, cold days.

(Read more at https://wildwoodcalling.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/the-bear-and-the-nightingale-series-books-to-get-you-through-the-winter-months/) ( )
  beckakw | Aug 8, 2017 |
This book had some red flags for me. First, it starts out with some folklore. I really just have no patience for folklore. My eyes glaze over and I start skimming. But I hung in and kept going!

Second, the genre lies somewhere between fantasy and historical fiction and magical realism, and magical realism and I have never gotten along well.

Nonetheless, I stuck with the story and really enjoyed it in the end. First, the setting was intriguing to me. It is set in what is basically Russia in the 13oos, at a time when tensions with the Mongols were high. Winter and the wilderness are serious business.

This is essentially the story of Vasya, whose mother dies after her birth and who can see all of the creatures (spirits? gremlins?) that help them throughout the house and the village. When Vasya is still a young child, her father goes to the city and returns with a young bride and a priest, both deeply religious and determined to disabuse Vasya of the notion that she can see these spirits. In the meantime, the village is dying, and Vasya may be the only one who can save them, with the help of a mysterious icy man.

There are a lot of themes to unpack here. The roles of women in society and in the home. The responsibilities that fall upon the eldest sons. And most of all, Christianity versus more pagan beliefs. Overall, religion is the bad guy here.

Though I enjoyed it, there were definitely some flaws. The pacing in the story is off. It really take forever to get to the meat of the story, and then the last act feels rushed. I wish we had spent more time with Vasya as a teen and less time with her as a small child. Also, the treatment of Anna, Vasya’s stepmother, was terrible. She is beat up not only by the story but by the author. I think she was needlessly turned into a villain, when really she was the biggest victim in the story.

This is meant to be the first in a trilogy. I may pick up the others, I haven’t decided yet. ( )
  miyurose | Aug 2, 2017 |
This is definitely now a favorite of mine. I'm not familiar with much Russian folklore, but I love folklore and I think the author did a wonderful job of bringing the story to life and making it a fascinating look into the older stories of Russian culture. I'll definitely be trying to make myself more familiar with more Russian folklore from now on. ( )
  Sarahliz2182 | Jul 1, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Katherine Ardenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hunt, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Russian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Epigraph
By the shore of the sea stands a green oak tree;
Upon the tree is a golden chain:
And day and night a learned cat
Walks around and around on the chain;
When he goes to the right he sings a song,
When he goes to the left he tells a tale.
-A.S. Pushkin
Dedication
To my mother
with love
First words
It was late winter in northern Rus', the air sullen with wet that was neither rain nor snow.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
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-- Provided by publisher.
Haiku summary
Don't get lost in the
woods: they're cold and all sorts of
foul creatures hunt there.
(passion4reading)

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