The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Rate: 4/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview (No Spoilers): Last week I found myself in a rare predicament. I’d just finished The Dark Tower and didn’t have another audiobook available in the queue. With my hour drive home from work looming in the near future, I scoured the available now section of audiobooks from my library app.  Due to its popularity, I was surprised to find that no one had yet scooped up The Bear and the Nightingale, thus promptly checked it out.  Quickly upon starting this Russian adventure, I became enamored of Arden’s unique writing style that can quite easily be classified as beautiful and will likely find a place among  my list of books of the like. She weaves not only a delightful literary world but also develops scenes and interactions are eloquent and playful, while still capturing the looming darkness.  Additionally, Arden had created a wonderfully strong female character in Vasilisa, who is refreshingly confident, unafraid and unapologetic for being different from everyone else.  My favorite of her interactions within this book were her animated conversations with the horses and friendly house spirits.  Going into this read I’d expected it to be a Young Adult novel, however it instead walks a fine line between adult and YA with some of the themes that are addressed.  Overall, The Bear and the Nightingale is a beautiful, gripping story that will draw both smiles and exasperation from the reader as Vasilisa struggles with expectations, realities and the resulting dangers between the old world and the new.

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • What powers did the talisman actually grant Vasilisa?
  • Will Morozko and Vasilisa start a relationship? I thought it might be leading up to that, especially when he kissed her at the end. However, there really wasn’t much chemistry there either. I feel like there will be a potential match between the young new Crown Prince and Vasilisa despite the fact they have yet to meet in the story.
  • Why did Olga not send for her sister like promised?
  • What role will Sasha still play? We know he sent his emissary asking his Father to aid in a war, but what kind of man has he grown into?
  • It was so heartbreaking that Vasilisa’s father sacrificed his own life for hers. What brother will step in the Dad’s place? Will that brother try bullying her into marrying?
  • What a sad ending for Anna (the step mother) who became ‘evil’ to Vasilisa but was really just so misunderstood. How different both of their lives would have been if they could have communicated and she realized she wasn’t seeing demons. I was hoping for a redeeming plot arc for her but alas her death left so much unresolved.
  • How far proud Konstantin has fallen. Will he be able to save himself or will he continue to be a plague on Vasilisa? How could he have sacrificed Anna?



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