Have you ever picked up a book because you kept seeing its cover everywhere?

The Bear and the Nightingale - Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale is the first book in the Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden. This book contains fantasy elements mixed with a Russian folktale influence. The reader follows Vasya, a young Russian girl, who was predestined before her birth for something great and who possesses the old magic. Vasya has the Sight and can see and communicate with the household spirits (chyerti). Her peculiar gifts aren't necessarily seen as a problem (beyond her possible difficulties securing a husband) until her father gets married to the daughter of the Grand Prince of Moscow. Her stepmother is deeply religious and in conjunction with the village's new priest, Konstantin, begins to sway Vasya's father into marrying her off as soon as possible. Konstantin preys on the fears of his congregants and Vasya finds herself a pariah among the very people she wishes to help. [A/N: Konstantin is a creep and anyone who says otherwise is crazy.] There comes a winter which is particularly harsh and the Bear becomes active from the people's fears (which just so happens to be his source of nourishment). It turns out that the tales that Vasya's nurse have told for years upon years seem to be true as she becomes mixed up with the lifelong feud between The Winter King and his brother Morozko (the Bear). The end is rather fuzzily done up but that's to be expected from a book which was created as part of a trilogy. Heavy on religious and mystical elements, this book took me quite a long while to get through even though once I picked it back up I found it deeply interesting. I will most likely read the next in the series (or give it a good attempt) next year. This is a book that would be ideal during the cold winter nights when you have nothing pressing to do and can curl up with a book for hours on end. 6/10

 

The cover from the Australian edition. [Source: Penguin Books Australia] 

 

What's Up Next: The Compleet Molesworth by Geoffrey Willans

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan

Source: http://readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com