ARC Review: The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden

Release Date: 12th January 2017
Publisher: Ebury
Pages: 336
Find it: Goodreads. Amazon.

A beautifully written tale of magic and mystery. This is definitely going to be one of my favourite books of 2017.


‘Frost-demons have no interest in mortal girls wed to mortal men. In the stories, they only come for the wild maiden.’

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods…


It took me a while to write the review for this book, mainly because it took me a while to sort my feelings out about it. I absolutely adored this book, so much that I found it difficult to put down in wonders just how breath taking it really is. I also got one hell of a book hangover and haven’t read anything as good since. This is the sort of book I wanted to take copies of everywhere I go and just hand it out to people and say ‘here, read this it’s perfect.’

The Bear and the Nightingale is set in a fantasy version of medieval Russia. It contains all the history and folklore of that time period, coupled with an intoxicating array of magic and beauty. The book is incredibly atmospheric, and sucks you in right from the very get go. The thing I loved most about this was Arden’s beautiful writing. The Bear and the Nightingale is incredibly atmospheric, and really makes the settings come alive. This book is an absolutely stunning debut.

There are a whole host of interesting characters, from the creatures Vasya can talk to, to Frost himself. They were all well fleshed out and really interesting to see as the plot moves along and things become tense. I absolutely loved Vasya. We see her from a little girl  –  her wild and carefree behaviour, which then develops into a strong and brave young woman. It was really fascinating to see her grow and change in this beautiful and richly imagined setting.  I was also completely fascinated by Anna and the young priest. They’re both such complex and interesting characters, dealing with the harsh realities of their live, while attempting to understand the magic and mystery going on around them. The Bear and the Nightingale is almost like a fairytale, except it is so much more than that. I loved this book from start to finish and cannot wait to see what Katherine Arden brings out next.

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