The Bear and the Nightingale

‘What an epic book. Fantastic.’


In the nortern area of cold Russia, the family of Pyotr Vladimirovitch lives in a small medieval village near the woods. They are not wealthy, but they keep on going, holding on to eachother when the icecold winter takes another life. The only thing that seems to get them through the winter are the countless fairytales the wet nurse tells the children. When Pyotrs wife Marina is pregnant with their fifth child, she already senses that there’s something special growing inside of her. She makes Pyotr promise to keep her safe, a promise very hard to ignore when Marina dies giving birth to Vasya. The years following seem even more cold and grim than usual. Harvests are failing, animals are dying. It seems like the legends told by the wet nurse are not hiding in their fairytales anymore. And it’s up to Vasya to end all the chaos that has been released in her village.


A beautiful but very complex book! You do need some determination to get through this book if you’re used to easy reads. The complexity of the story is somewhat tempered by the simplicity of the main character. And with that I don’t mean she’s shallow. Everything she goes through is far beyond normal, but Vasya stays calm during all that and doesn’t show many extreme emotions.

The plot of this book goes further than this book alone. It is – after all – the first in a trilogy. In this book the foundation is built for a retelling of the fairytale that is told in the beginning of the book. The story does start up a bit slow, but in the end you’ll find yourself investigated in the story like never before.

Katherine Ardens writing can only be described as detailed. Spaces and surroundings are specified into detail. There are also a lot of backgroundstories to be found, which can be confusing at first, but it gives characters just the right amount of detail they need. This does make things complicated when you have to say goodbye to all of those characters. The fairytale being Russian, there are a lot of Russian terms making an appearance. These are not explained any further because the context gives you all the information you’ll need.


A pretty complex but profound story. You do need to stay focused while reading, cause otherwisely you’ll completely lose track. Rich with detailed descriptions of characters and surroundings. Recommended for everyone ready for complex and in-depth fiction!

Product information:
Written by: Katherine Arden
Pages: 456
Publisher: Del Rey Books
ISBN: 1101885939
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