Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy #1)

Author: Katherine Arden
Started reading: January 1st 2020
Finished the book: January 20th 2020
Pages: 323
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Fairy Tale
Published: January 10th 2017
Source: Bought the Ebook
Goodreads score: 4.12
My score: 
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.

My thoughts
We're currently reading this trilogy with my book-club. This book was pretty hard to get into for me, but it was definitely written magically. I saw loads of good things, but the rough start made me give the book 3 stars. I will definitely read the second book, because members of my book-club say it's definitely worth it!

  • Growing up: I loved how we got to see Vasya grow up in this book. She's a fierce one and she's enthusiastic, wild and adventurous as a child. It's realistic to see how she gets older and how she changes or to see the personality traits that she still has when growing older. Definitely one of my favorite main characters and also one of the reasons I will keep reading this series.
  • Magically: This book was magically written. It could feel the cold, the snow and the winter, it was all over the pages. I had no trouble in this book to see the things in my head and to imagine everything that was happening. The book felt very much like a fairy tale.
  • Ending: I had no idea where this book was going and a long time that troubled me a bit, because the story felt sort of senseless? (I don't mean to be harsh). But after 80% I was totally emerged in this book and there were some surprising things that happened ;in the final 20%. I was glad that some people died (I know that sounds weird), even though I liked them a lot, I always feel that it's okay to end a character when it fits the story. I loved the final pages and it made me curious about the next book.
  • Characters: The first half of the book was hard to read for me because of all the names. I had a hard time to keep the characters apart, the story was laced with names. Some of the characters names were written in two or three different ways and that made it just very confusing for me at the beginning.
  • Slow: I've read this book with the book-club and loads of people found the story to be too slow, including me. It felt like the story got going around 80% in. I did hear some good stories from the other members about the second book. They told me this is just a slow build up towards the next books, so I will try the second book.
A magically written book that takes some time and patience to get into. I'm a big fan of the main character, Vasya stole my heart.
Even though this first book felt too slow for me, I hear good stories about the second book and will definitely read that.

Other opinions on this book
"A beautiful deep-winter story, full of magic and monsters and the sharp edges of growing up."
- Naomi Novik, bestselling author

"Vasya is a clever, stalwart girl determined to forge her own path in a time when women had few choices."
- The Christian Science Monitor

Memorable quotes from this book
"Vasya felt cold despite the steam. 'Why would I choose to die?' 'It is easy to die,' replied the bannik. 'Harder to live.'

"I gave everything for you, Vasilisa Petrovna.'
'Not everything,' said Vasya. 'Since clearly your pride is intact, as well as your illusions.'

Thanks for reading!
I'd love to talk books; please let me know what you think about this book/review.


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~ Esther