The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Published January 10th 2017 by Del Rey
Goodreads Summary: 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.
Review: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Wow! When I first heard about this book I figured that I would really like it but I ended up loving it. I was completely engrossed in it almost from page one. I felt really connected to Vasya and loved seeing her grow as a person and become who she was destined to be. Vasya’s brothers, especially Sasha and Alyosha, were so endearing. I really loved seeing them stick up for their little sister when everyone else seemed to think her a crazed heathen. Konstantin, the priest, actually freaked me out a little bit. The way he tended to watch Vasya and follow her gave me chills sometimes. There were so many times that I wanted to slap Anna Ivanovna across the face. She definitely fit well into the evil stepmother role. I loved all of the elements of the Russian folk and fairy tales that made up this novel. It was really interesting to also read the author’s note at the end to read about how she went about transliterating the Russian words to English. There is also a helpful glossary in the back for those who are unfamiliar with Russian terms. This is a book that I will be purchasing a hardcover copy of to add to my home library.