My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4 out of 5 Stars
“Am I a child? Always someone else must decide for me. But this I will decide for myself.”
A strange but beautiful woman gives birth to her baby girl, passing away in the process. Just before the woman dies, she whispers to her husband that this baby will be exactly like her grandmother: a witch.
Several frostbitten winters pass and the baby girl, Vasya, is now a little girl. She gets lost in the forest one day, only to stumble upon a sleeping man beneath a twisted tree. The man has only one eye and an evil countenance. Something sinister is about to take place before a beautiful rider on a snow white horse arrives and saves her. This beautiful man is as cold as ice and seems like he may be something….more…than just a man.
Now Vasya is a teen and that wintery day in the forest is a distant memory. She romps with the wood spirits, talks to the spirits that guard their house, and makes friends with the water spirit. However, she is the only one that can see these chyerti. Oh yeah, except her mean and slightly deranged new stepmother can see them too, but her stepmother believes they are evil demons and is starting to think her stepdaughter may be one of them too…
My only teeny, weeny pet peeve is that the first little bit of the book did move rather slowly. I still found it interesting, don’t get me wrong, but compared with the latter half of the book, the pacing was rather slow.
The Bear and the Nightingale is the perfect blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and spooky old fairytales. Vasya is a headstrong, passionate girl who instantly pulled me into this story and found her way into my heart. She is determined not to end up as some old lord’s bride or a nun in a convent and spends more time in the forest and with the horses than she does with anyone else. I love the prose of Katherine Arden. The writing was so rich and lovely, it refreshed my soul. I haven’t read prose this good in a new book in quite some time. The villains are complex and creepy in their own special ways. This book was an absolute delight and I am so thrilled that there are more in the series! I have not had my fill of Vasya and the Frost Demon!
I absolutely recommend this book to historical fiction and fantasy lovers alike!