Want-to-Read Wednesdays ‘The Bear and the Nightingale’ Katherine Arden

A fantasy fairytale set in Russia? Sign me up!

the bear and the nightingale.jpg
Beware the evil in the woods? Too cliché? 

I’m not sure what drew me to this one. I am certainly a sucker for this kind of title, and the cover is of course beautiful. But I’m also looking forward to reading something that is set somewhere I’ve never been and a life I don’t think I will ever experience.

Winter in Russia, just thinking about it makes me shiver, I get that feeling that it’s going to be enchanting. I know that’s hopelessly naive and that in actual fact winter in Russia is just hard and horrible but I think for a fantasy novel I can be transported a little.

I’m excited to see how Vasilisa (our protagonist) turns out, the only other Vasilisa I’ve ever read about is the Princess in the Vampire Academy series (I was a teenager once). If you’ve read any of my other reviews you’ll know I love a well-written female protagonist so I have high hopes for this one.

The plot summary also looks exciting. While the ‘beloved siblings vs evil stepmother’ vibe is nothing new it’s a trope for a reason. As someone raised on fairytales it just makes me want to read this even more. You add in the fantastical element of ‘dangerous gifts she has long concealed’ and ‘a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales’ and I am as desperate as those people you see who queue up outside shops before black friday in America.

In case I haven’t made it clear, I’m looking forward to reading this (soon please Royal Mail!) but, as this is a WTRW we should probably also look at all the things that might go wrong. To my knowledge Katherine Arden is not Russian, though she apparently did spend two years there off and on. Could this mean that we don’t get a real sense of what Russia is like? Does that matter? Also, this is the first book of a series, the pitfalls of which I believe I have mentioned in previous blog posts. Only time will tell whether this is just an elaborate set up to a bigger plot or if it can hold its own as a novel. There’s also the fear that comes from fantasy novels set in the real world that the magical elements will just exist for the sake of it and won’t ever be explained (I’m looking at you ‘The Miniaturist’).

We shall see where this book meets, exceeds or falls short of my expectations in due course. With spring on her way, it might be nice to relive to coldness of winter, but I shall be glad to do so in the warm.

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