The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale

eBook - 2017
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A magical debut novel for readers of Naomi Novik's Uprooted , Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus , and Neil Gaiman's myth-rich fantasies, The Bear and the Nightingale spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice. 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. Advance praise for The Bear and the Nightingale "Stunning . . . will enchant readers from the first page. . . . with an irresistible heroine who wants only to be free of the bonds placed on her gender and claim her own fate." ? Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Utterly bewitching . . . a lush narrative . . . an immersive, earthy story of folk magic, faith, and hubris, peopled with vivid, dynamic characters, particularly clever, brave Vasya, who outsmarts men and demons alike to save her family." ? Booklist (starred review) "Arden's supple, sumptuous first novel transports the reader to a version of medieval Russia where history and myth coexist." ?Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Radiant . . . a darkly magical fairy tale for adults, [but] not just for those who love magic." ?Library Journal "An extraordinary retelling of a very old tale . . . A Russian setting adds unfamiliar spice to the story of a young woman who does not rebel against the limits of her role in her culture so much as transcend them. The Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderfully layered novel of family and the harsh wonders of deep winter magic." ?Robin Hobb "A beautiful deep-winter story, full of magic and monsters and the sharp edges of growing up." ?Naomi Novik "Haunting and lyrical, The Bear and the Nightingale tugs at the heart and quickens the pulse. I can't wait for her next book." ?Terry Brooks " The Bear and the Nightingale is a marvelous trip into an ancient Russia where magic is a part of everyday life." ?Todd McCaffrey "Enthralling and enchanting?I literally couldn't put it down. A wondrous book!" ?Tamora Pierce
Publisher: [S.I.] : Random House Publishing Group, 2017.
ISBN: 9781101885949
Branch Call Number: eBOOK OVERDRI
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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From Library Staff

List - Circe
SnoIsleLib_LindseyA Oct 04, 2018

Like Madeline Miller's Circe, this book explores historical fantasy and gender roles to tell the tale of a bold girl with special gifts who struggles to find her place in the world.

This book believably and seamlessly channels archaic Russian mythology into Russian Late-Renaissance life. Add in strong females? Yay!

Speculative Fiction; Made it to the Final Round

Fourteenth century Russia is full of magical creatures and tradition. But as tradition is changing from the pagan offerings to a modern religion, Vasya must summon strength to save her family and entire village. A haunting read! Suggested by Kaley.


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c
CEE8690
Sep 24, 2018

Book 1 of unfinished trilogy

f
fforfox
Jul 20, 2018

It is beautifully written and has charm, but the pace seemed odd. Most sections were very slow and drawn out. Others were rushed as characters suddenly grew up or dramatic events were just briefly described. Character descriptions and development was excellent, and I enjoyed that. I liked the glossary at the back, great for those of us unfamiliar with the terminology or background. I was a little disappointed with the ending, and wished the spirits were more involved throughout. I guess I expected more fantasy, drama, magic, and adventure.

Overall a one-time read. No regrets, and I learnt a little about Russian folklore, but I wouldn't reach for it again. I would probably appreciate it more if I were more interested in Russian culture and stories. I do recommend reading this if you're looking for an easy, relaxing read.

ArapahoeKatieK May 20, 2018

This was one of those books that really drew me in and didn't let go of me until the end. Beautifully written with an expert knowledge of Russian Folklore.

k
katedelaney
May 18, 2018

This is a beautifully written fairy tale for adults, which is one of my favorite genres thanks to authors like A.S. Byatt, John Connelly and Susanna Clark. I found this book to be a bit less dark and gruesome than some of the other books of this genre I have read (The Book of Lost Things comes to mind as a particularly horror-laden example), and overall a fairly easy read with short chapters and a quick pace. The hero, Vasya, is a Snow White/Joan of Arc archetype, except the purity she represents is that of the old world, full of magic, strange creatures and many gods. Religion is definitely a major theme in this book, which pits the weakening old ways against the growing strength of modern religion/Christianity. It is a tale of changing times and changing cultures. The writing is very reminiscent of Brothers Grimm-type stories, except it is much longer, so there is plenty of character development and plot twists. I enjoyed this book and plan to read the sequel as well.

JessicaGma May 15, 2018

Set in Medieval Russia, this is a very wonderful tale of the old ways conflicting with the new. Vasilisa can see the old magical creatures who protect the hearth and town from evil, but a new priest has come, and tries to turn the town from the old ways. Vasilisa is a great character, and the story draws you in. I didn't think I'd like the book and I was 150 pages in with little trouble. Worth reading, especially if you like re-tellings of folk tales.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
May 07, 2018

"The stories are all true," or at least here all the Russian folktales are! From the beginning with a chilling story, to the end with a dramatic plot twist, the audience will be enthralled with captivation. Reading this, I could make connections to all the stories I read as a child (Cinderella - the evil stepmother, Snow White/ Little Red Riding Hood - the woods, Beauty and the Beast - the village's fear and aggression... etc). It is similar in plot to the book "The Beast is an Animal," but a LOT better!! It is truly a beautiful book, and I am currently very excited for the next!
- @Siri of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

l
ldetrich
Apr 28, 2018

What a beautifully written story, fans of Russian folklore will find this completely engrossing and magical. The author's writing style is lush and vibrant, and the characters become alive on the page.
Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. I finished the book in approximately two days.

j
jac523
Apr 25, 2018

This is a beautifully written novel. If you enjoyed Naomi Novik's Uprooted, this one is a must read!

l
Linyarai
Apr 23, 2018

This had a really interesting premise, but I felt a bit let down by the slow pace. I would have liked more involvement from the local spirits.

e
essvee
Apr 14, 2018

This was a fine Russian folktale. I had trouble getting invested and almost didn't finish, which surprised me somewhat because the writing is lovely and the characters are just fine. I just didn't really care how it was going to end.

I don't understand why it's listed as first of a trilogy. It stands alone quite well.

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ArapahoeKatieK May 23, 2018

ArapahoeKatieK thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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ArapahoeKatieK May 23, 2018

A story about Russian folklore. A girl is born to a Russian landowner in the middle of winter and there is something special about her. A tomboy from an early age, she spends her first decade and a half figuring out who she really is and how to use her abilities, how to fight evil, and how to keep her family safe.

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