The Bear and the Nightingale
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Marina Invanova, daughter of the Prince and his beautful but ethereal second wife, is pregnant once again. Her husband, Pyotr, promises to look after the child, even though he can’t understand why his wife would need to ask. Then Marina dies in childbirth, and Vasya turns out to be more like her mother’s family that anyone would have predicted including being able to see things that nobody else knows is there. When the Prince provides a second wife for her father and sends the priest, Konstantin, to run the local church, only Vasya and her gifts can save her village and only if they will let her.

This is a magical tale based in Russian folklore. Katherine Arden does a wondeful job of setting the scene from the first page and the characters (both human and other wordly) are so brilliantly written that I could not wait to get back to the story each night.

It is very clear that the author has a great affinity for the Russian people and their folklore. She tells this story with such care that it really draws you in. The “good” characters are really good and the “bad” really bad, but there are also so many in between to make the story thought provoking and interesting at every turn.

Of course, as it is a story of supernatural beings, it is definitely in the fantasy category. Nevertheless, it is one of those stories which span many genre and would appeal to anyone who likes to immerse themselves in another time and place – real or mythical!

I absolutely loved this book and will look with great eagerness forthe next one by this author.

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