Book review

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden | Book Review

Hello book lovers!

I bring to you another review. I was so excited to read this book because of the hype I’ve seen around in the book community, but sadly, it didn’t live up to my expectations. If you want to know why, keep reading!

I feel like if I tell you with my own words what this book is about, I will be missing some things out, so to play it safe, I’m going to copy and paste the synopsis that appears on Goodreads. Please don’t hate me for not trying.

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.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

It truly sounds interesting and I had wanted to read this book for a very long time. I really don’t know why I expected a kind of retelling of The Beauty and the Beast, as well as a book with a lot of romance. Neither of those things were present in here which disappointed me because I was looking forward to that.

The pace was very slow for my liking, too. The first half was about the characters life and very little action. Then the second half we finally get the action and I was so happy about that. I mean, now that I finish the book, I can see why the first half was an introduction since this book is about Russian folklore and personally, I don’t know anything about it, so it helped me in understanding everything, but it still felt very long and I was a little bit bored a lot of times.

There were a few important characters and I struggle a lot at first to get everyone’s name. I confused everyone all the time. Actually, up until the last page I still got confused with Vasya’s family members. I think this was because the names were not that common to me and because I also suck at remembering names!

The world building was so good tho! I waited to read this book in December because I read reviews saying that this was a very winter-y book, so I wanted to feel more in that mood of snow and cold to enjoy the book more. It truly is very winter-y. It made me want to be there in the woods walking through the trees and the snow and cold.

I really don’t have much else to say, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted because I was expecting a completely different story, but I still managed to like it. I recommend it to anyone that likes Russian folklore, I’m sure that if you like historical fiction, fairy tales and fantasy, you will fall in love with The Bear and the Nightingale.

Sadly I had to give it 2.5 stars because of the first half that, in my opinion, had too much information, non existent action and was very slow paced. Also because, like I said, I was expecting a completely different story so I was very disappointed, but bear in mind that I’m a hopeless romantic so I wanted some swoon worthy romance. But overall, it was a decent book that I want to reread someday with a different mindset, which I’m sure will make me like it more.

the bear and the nightingale review

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? And if you haven’t, tell me if you’re interested in it?

Until the next post!

Happy reading 💙

6 thoughts on “The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden | Book Review”

  1. I heard that about this book – it being slow that is. But I also heard the other books get better and that there definitely is a romance in it. So maybe you’ll like the other two later books much more? I haven’t read any, but I have been meaning to for ages now…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard that about the other books too. I might give them a try some time later in the year. I hope that when you read them, you enjoy them a lot ☺️


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