5 Things About The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

January 18, 2018 Review 14 ★★★

5 Things About The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Del Ray
Source: Purchased
Pages: 328
Release Date: January 10th 2017
Series: Winternight Trilogy #1
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
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.

Russian Folklore has a heavy influence

Historical fantasy is one of my top genres and I love exploring the folore that captivated our ancestors. There are so many traditions and practices that influences how we developed as humans. I love being able to explore those rituals and beliefs in stories about creatures and gods from ages past.

I wanted a lot more to happen

I don’t want to say I struggled with THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE, but I did wish a lot more happened. The first two thirds of the book followed Vasya’s family and her childhood, slowly sowing seeds and developing side characters which is all well and good… if they’re clearly relevant to the plot (not all of them were. Two of her siblings move away and aren’t seen again). Vasya didn’t go into the woods and meet Morozko or Solovey until after that two third mark, and then the final climax was so short and lacking. We were teased with many mentions of Russian gods, magic, and romance but it was barely explored. Really I wish the last two thirds had been spent on Vasya’s quest to save her people and village and the development of her relationship with Morozko instead of a measly 50-80 or so pages.

However, I didn’t realise it was the start of a trilogy. Awks

This realisation changed my thoughts a fair bit. I’ve gone from being overall disappointed to filled with anticipation. I can only hope that the purpose of development of her siblings Sasha and Olga become more apparent, and that there’s more (delightfully slow burn) romance, action, magic, and everything else I yearned for to come.

Still a captivating read

Even with it’s slow pace to start with, I couldn’t stop reading. The characters were interesting and the writing charming. It was almost as magnetising as a Juliet Marillier book (she also writes slow paced, beautiful novels with the best characters. More time is spent on obvious plot with her though). I cannot fault the writing style one bit, it read like a fairy tale.

I’m looking forward to more adventures with Vasya

Vasya was a delightful heroine. Strong willed, courageous, bright, and intelligent. She was everything I like in my female MCs. I would love to have even half of her care free courageous attitude. She’s going to take the world of Rus by storm. (Annd as I searched for a gif I just realised how much her personality and desires are like Merida’s hahaha)


THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE was a good read but not entirely what I wished for. The start was slow, very slow, with the part I was most interested in not beginning until the book was two thirds done. Now that I know it’s the start of a trilogy however I am really looking forward to following the spirited Vasya on more of her adventures.


Check out this Russian folklore inspired fantasy for yourself:
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Rating Report
Overall: 3.6

14 Responses to “5 Things About The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden”

  1. Tasya

    Glad you enjoyed it! It was my favorite read last year, I love how atmospheric and magical it was! I struggled with the beginning too, it was captivating but it was also definitely too slow for my liking. I hope the next book will live up to our expectations!
    Tasya recently posted…What Should I Read Next?

    • Bec

      I’m super excited for the sequel now! This book set a lot of things up so I hope now it can delve right into the thick of things.

    • Bec

      Deathless is on my wishlist but I didn’t know it was based on Russian folklore and things!! I need to get my hands on it even more now.

      I hope you enjoy this one just as much!

    • Bec

      It is absolutely gorgeous!!

      If it was slow, but more plot things happened sooner, I would have been happy it was a standalone. But it set a lot of things up that I’m hoping the sequels flesh out.

    • Bec

      The stuff that happened in the last third was everything I had hoped the entire book would be, so I’d be silly not to continue! I hope I get to read it soon :D

  2. Sue

    This book definitely has an interesting concept. I like how you set up your review with pics. It is also well thought out and written

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