Title: The Bear and the Nightingale
Series: Winternight Trilogy, #1
Author: Katherine Arden
Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale
Story Perspective: Third-Person Omniscient
Themes: Beliefs, Relationships, Religion
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Del Rey Books
In a cold and dark Russian village, young Vasilisa can see house spirits, feeds them, and explores the forests around her.
However, as darker creatures come closer to her home, everyone’s food supply lowers and their lives become endangered. Dealing with these darker spirits, her harsh stepmother, and a fear-inducing priest, Vasya has a lot on her plate. Will she be able to save her land and loved ones to the true darkest in the forest?
This was a book that I’ve been curious about for a while. It’s one that I’ve heard positive remarks one, and after a recommendation of giving it a try, I decided to download an e-copy from my library.
The author does an extremely good job in describing the Russian, cold setting throughout the novel. So good of a job that it reminded me that I would never want to live in a place that predominantly had winter as its main season. I could almost feel the cold coming off this book’s pages, so kudos to the author for her great descriptions!
There were moments of the plot that I found intriguing while others not as much. The idea of having smaller demons/house spirits scattered throughout Vasilisa’s home and land was great. I loved the idea of needing to feed them to keep them alive. Even the winter demon was interesting to read about. On the other hand, I wasn’t a fan of the priest that came to Vasilisa’s home storyline. The fact that he wanted to put the “fear of God” to everyone in the town was a major turn-off for me. It brings back my Catholic guilt upbringing. In addition, his decision toward the end of the story really irked me. Speaking of the ending, I also found that to be unpleasant. I felt there was a rush to tie in the “bear” and the “nightingale” part of the story that it left me unsatisfied. Never mind the fact that the fight at the end wasn’t something that I wasn’t invested or interested in reading about.
The not-being-invested was most likely due to the fact that I didn’t feel any connection or care for most of the characters of the book. Aside from possibly Vasya (Vailisa’s other name in the book), there wasn’t a character that I wanted to read more about. Though she seems fearless and strong, which are great qualities to have, I didn’t find that her character changed much from the beginning to the end of the novel. All of this added to my lack of enjoyment of the ending.
Overall, I can appreciate the storyline and the fact that many enjoy this read, however, I don’t feel this trilogy is for me. Therefore, I do not plan on continuing to read the Winternight Trilogy.
Perhaps those who enjoy some dark fantasy involving some house spirits and demons would enjoy this book.