Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale

This book has been on my TBR FOREVER! I’ve been dying to read it. So why did it take me so long? I don’t know.

This book is told in 3rd person omniscient, distant. The effect is that it sounds like someone telling a fairy tale. The prose is filled with delightful adjectives. Stephen King would absolutely hate this story for that reason I think. It made the story feel full of childish wonder.

The Bear and the Nightingale
By Katherine Arden

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Narrated by Kathleen Gati
Published by Del Rey
Agent Paul Lucas

At the heart of this story is a battle of belief. Christianity versus the old gods like the domovoi who lives in the oven and protects the house. The vazila who is the spirit of the horses. The Winter King. Death. A creature in the water. An old Oak Tree in the forest.

Vasalisa (Vasya) is the main character. She is born to a mother who has the sight and knows that Vasya will be special. She is a wild uncontrollable child who thrives in nature and will not be tamed. She does the most unladylike things, like ride a horse well. She can also see the gods and hear them. They teach her things which gets her into much trouble.

Like any good fairytale, Vasya has a stepmother who doesn’t make her life easy.

The audio version of this narrative is excellent. Kathleen Gati reads it with a Russian accent and helps by pronouncing all the names. For a while recently, I couldn’t get into audio books. I kept abandoning stories because they just didn’t keep my attention. I listened to a bunch of podcasts instead. This story got me out of my audio book slump. Yay!

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River Song

Often I don’t read sequels because I don’t have time. I read book one so I can recommend it to my students. But I might make an exception for this story. The sequel sounds intriguing. I won’t tell you about it because…Spoilers!

Listening to this story was strange at first. Not in a bad way, just different. It seemed distant and very telling instead of showing. I thought it would be just the beginning, but it was like that throughout. Normally they say telling is bad, but the author did it in such a way that it works. I’m trying to pinpoint how she did it. I think because the description of the events were so beautifully done, it works.

Who will like this?

If you love Rick Riordan stories with mythology and gods and fantastical creatures. You’ll love this! If you like protagonists who are wild and refuse to be tamed. You’ll love this!

However, if you are Christian and don’t like reading a story that portrays Christianity in less than stellar light, then you might not like this. If you don’t like Harry Potter because it is witchcraft, then don’t bother with this story. I am Christian and I loved this story though.

I give this five quills.
Foul Language: None
Excessive or Vivid Violence: None
Sexual Content: None
Substance Abuse: None

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