Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

This is an old Russian fairy tale and the author does a very good job of recreating that atmosphere.  You feel the cold, the anguish, and the fear of the people in the story.  It's a tale of old gods, unseen helpers and a reverend that only has his personal needs in his mind.  Are you ready to step into an old world?  Bring your blanket...

Del Rey and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published January 10th.

Vasilisa is the youngest child in the family.  Her mother died shortly after her birth but she made her father promise to keep Vasilisa safe.  She knew she was different.  Vasilisa hasn't realized it yet but she finds out quickly people can't see the odd creatures that live in the house, the woods, the stable, and the river like she does.  She doesn't understand why but she knows they are her friends.  

There is a magical mystical feel to this story.  When their old priest dies, they ask for a new one to replace him.  He's young, paints icons, and wants everyone to be afraid of him and love him both.  He tells them the odd creatures that protect their homes and help them with their chores are bad and that they shouldn't believe in them.  As they forsake them, bad things begin to happen.

Vasilisa plays in the woods and by the river all the time.  She enjoys the outdoors.  When she finds a strange tree and even odder man laying under it, she finds someone she should have never made an acquaintance with.  He's dangerous.  He's bound to the tree but he's building his power and he intends to come after her.

With Vasilisa's magical abilities, it doesn't take long for the village to turn against her.  Her new stepmother doesn't like her either.  Things build to a tense, suspenseful ending that will hold your attention all through the book.  Russian fairy tales don't usually have a happy ending but I think this one does.  You read it yourself and then tell me if you agree with me.

This story really talked to my fanciful side.  I  enjoyed this read very much.

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