‘The snow fell thrice, deep and solid, after midwinter, and after the last snowfall came a great blue frost, when men felt their breath stop in their nostrils and weak things grew apt to die in the night.’
The Bear and the Nightingale By Katherine Arden invites its readers to be entranced by Russian fairytales and traditional folklore. The Bear and the Nightingale is about a young girl called Vasilisa and her journey to adulthood. Vasilisa however is bound for greatness, something in which her stepmother, Anna wants for her own daughter. Once Vasilisa’s father remarries, incidents begin to occur that threatens her village and her home. It is best described as a coming of age novel that is encased in fairy tales.
The language that Arden has used is descriptive when it needs to be and lyrical, throughout. The lyrical prose blends itself well to the voice of Vasilisa as it expresses a sense of naivety and purity. The description in the novel appears very similar to that of Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist. Both texts describe with their senses and it was rather refreshing to read about the winter-king in the peak of summer. Arden’s language also demonstrates her extensive research into Russian fairytales and traditional folklore. It is for this reason that this piece could be described as authentic. Each page oozes droplets of Russian culture whilst allowing the reader to breeze through the novel.
The plot itself mirrors the structure of sheet music. Every scene, discussion and description is needed to carry the reader deep into the novel. Arden’s novel is fluid and grips the reader from the very start. The Bear and the Nightingale is a great book to read for escapism and provides its readers with a warm log fire to cosy up to, even in the summer!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and have found it an honour in reading it as a proof copy. I believe that this book is for anyone and can be read whatever the time of year. I would urge anyone to buy or pre-order this book here as I feel that your money would definitely not be wasted. A great read and a great gift to give.