The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale

Large Print - 2017 | Large print edition.
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"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.
Publisher: Waterville, ME : Thorndike Press, 2017.
Edition: Large print edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781410496171
Branch Call Number: Large Print ARD
Characteristics: 519 pages (large print).


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ontherideau Sep 21, 2017

A Russian fantasy featuring many threads and perspectives, conflict between good and evil with much evil coming from a religious leader and good from the suspected witch. Some readers have compared this to a dark Narnia, I often thought of Cinderella with a twist.

GCPL_Angela Aug 28, 2017

I was enthralled with the beginning of this book, and as of about halfway through it was all set to give it a five-star rating. The enchanted woods called to mind the Tom Bombadil parts of Fellowship of the Ring (which I loved) and the wintry world filled with strange creatures (some friendly, others of dubious allegiance) reminded me so much of Narnia. These were great associations for me, both nostalgic and transporting.

But the latter parts of the book veered darker, and I found the story much less gratifying as the action became increasingly grim and macabre. I understand that this is probably faithful to the spirit of true Russian folklore, but I much preferred the lighter tone of the earlier part of the novel. (I really could have done without the upyr subplot, for example, which tended to be much grislier than the other mythology. As another reviewer said, it kind of turns into "zombie horror novel," which really took me out of the story -- I almost considered not continuing once or twice, but I was so close to the end that I kept going.)

Overall, a mixed bag for me. Fantasy readers will probably enjoy it, especially those who are familiar and comfortable with darker fantasy. I imagine that "fantasy lite" readers like myself who have only experience with more mainstream fantasy selections (e.g. Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia) may feel as I did about the latter third and ending of this one.

forbesrachel Aug 19, 2017

The old beliefs and the new clash in this alluring dark fairytale. In the depths of 14th century Russia, winter can mean death, but by properly giving tribute to the household spirits, the village where Pyotr Vladimirovich and his family live, has survived in relative prosperity. Vasilisa is different from Pyotr's other children. She has a wildness to her, the sight, and an affinity for the old magic. Because of this, she catches the attention of ancient gods, both good and evil, whose power dynamic is shifting. Up until this point, Christianity has existed relatively well with the local beliefs, but when Pyotr is made to marry the god-fearing, and sight-inflicted Anna Ivanovna, who in turn turns to an ambitious priest, this balance is shattered. Only Vasilisa knows that there is a threat lurking in the woods, and she is determined to protect her home. The summary for The Bear and the Nightingale can be a bit misleading. While Vasilisa is certainly the focus of this tale, it is not only her story. The book is told in the third person, switching to different characters all the way throughout; we get to see events from multiple perspectives, and we are never left guessing at a person's motivations. Most characters are not as stereotypical as the summary makes them seem; Vasilisa's kindly and wise nursemaid makes a huge mistake, and the "evil" stepmother is not evil, but broken. This speaks to Arden's ability to take folktale staples, and spin them into something fresh. Her world has a sinister underpinning, but the strength and love that the spirits and people have breathes hope into it. The Bear and the Nightingale comes to a satisfying conclusion, and yet this is clearly only the beginning of Vasilisa's story. Without any chains to shackle her, it will be interesting to see where she will go, and how she will grow from all the first experiences that await her.

Aug 14, 2017

I loved this book! While it was a little slow in the beginning, I really enjoyed the story arc. This is set in Russia and the fairy tales and the mystical beasties were great to read. Plus I really connected to the message of the book: Vasya's determination to decide her own path in life, breaking away from the traditional marriage and children route. And you know, bears, nightingales, and upyrs equals awesomeness.

Jcheng1234 Jul 25, 2017

A beautiful fairy tale of magic and spirits. The Russian names, folklore and history are very interesting. I think the main character is very brave. Her determination to protect her family and loved ones is admirable. The priest’s disillusion is a good warning for us to differentiate good from evil. I finished the book in one day and I enjoyed it very much.

Jun 24, 2017

A beautifully written fairy tale that reminded me of the original, terrifying Grimm tales. It made me look up some Russian folklore. I look forward to the next one!

AL_JANE Jun 12, 2017

What a deliciously dark and mysterious novel! It read like a Grimm's fairy tale for adults. Filled with Russian folklore and superstitions, it's sure to delight those longing for a story.

Apr 23, 2017

I couldn't make it past the crying, unwilling bride that just wanted to go into a convent...

Mar 17, 2017

I really enjoyed this fairy tale. I was so relieved and happy to read a fantasy book that for once didn't have any sex and barely even any romance, which was refreshing. I also love all of the Russian names and folktales. I think the author did a fantastic job for her debut novel and I'm looking forward to reading more of her books. If you like fairy tales and/or Russia during the medieval times, this book is for you!

Mar 16, 2017

Enjoyed the book. Made me realize how little of Russian folklore and history I know. It was a fast read. I would recommend this book.

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