Reviews

The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden

emmar's review against another edition

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adventurous dark mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

bookwormyami's review against another edition

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5.0

4.5 out of 5 stars.
I have seen so many praise for this book and now I understand why.
I really loved this book! I have to admit that at first it was hard for me to get into the book because the names of the characters were throwing me off. I was getting confused of trying to keep up with who the names belong to, but once I got over that, this book started to suck me in.
The characters and the world were beautifully written. I could picture Guillermo del Toro bringing this book to life.
I loved that Vasilisa has a mind of her own. No matter what people thought about her, she was still true to herself.
I was so mad with Anna (Vasilisa's step-mom) for the way she was treating her. I felt no pity for her when something happens to her (you gotta read the book to find out what I'm talking about.) I also did not like the Priest because he was one of the person behind people calling Vasilisa a witch, among other reasons.
I could go on and on about the book but I don't want to give anything important away, lol.
I definitely recommend this book to people who likes fantasy, YA, and fairytales with a little darkness to it.

secretrue's review against another edition

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5.0

Oh goodness, this book was so beautiful. It was wonderfully told, so good. It reminded me of a lot of the fantasy books that I read as a teen. Back when they didn't really have teen books, and you had to find the great fiction in the adult section that happened to feature teens/young adults. Really that is how this felt, like an adult book that happened to have a younger protagonist, and that's just part of the reason I liked it so much. If you have the time, I totally recommend this book.

dianemagnin's review against another edition

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3.0

3.25/5

This is one of those cases where I think this book was a very good book, but it had elements that stopped me from completely enjoying it.

Pros: The last third of this book was so enthralling, so addicting and I just couldn't put it down.
The writing was beautiful, the atmosphere was perfectly crafted. The book just gives you chills and you can feel the darkness and cold in your bones as you read it.
I don't often read books set in the Middle Ages, set before the time of empires, seeing the feudal system and seeing Russia before it was officially Russia, and seeing it before Orthodox Christianity fully colonized the spiritual realm of this region. This was so interesting, and it led to some interesting clashes between religious cultures and, as a consequence, the people who hold those views. The world building was so unique.

Cons: For the first half of the book, I had close to no idea who was who. Now, I knew going in that in Slavic culture, patronymics and nicknames are a huge thing. But having every single character (of which there are many), including the spirits and spiritual creatures, have MULTIPLE nicknames was overwhelming. Especially since I don't think all of these characters were completely necessary to the narrative.
The first half also felt very slow.
however, as you keep reading, you get a hand on the names and it does pick up, and the characters are well written IMO. So, overall, it was still a pretty good book.

Definitely a series I will continue with, and a book I recommend for those who love fairytales, good historical settings and cozy vibes.

chrisabzz's review against another edition

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2.0

Rating: 2.5 Stars

I really liked the idea of the setting, with all the slavic traditions and myths and the winter vibes overall.
However I can safely say that nothing happens in the entire book.
I kept reading and kept feeling like everything is still at the same place. To be honest if the book was longer I would have stopped reading. On top of that all the mythical creatures are new and the author doesn't really portray the characters in details. I had to google all of them to get a sense of the size and look and know what was being portrayed. The final battle was a huge disappointment finally when some action was about to take place, the author fell short and same as the whole novel, nothing really happens.
I can feel like there is more to come in the next novels, I am a fan of the main character Vasya but I have no idea if I will be picking up the rest of the series.

heeltje's review against another edition

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2.0

Weet niet of het komt door het luisterboek, of dat het boek mij sowieso niet kon boeien. Misschien had ik ook te hoge verwachtingen.

bookishkelly's review against another edition

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4.0

If you're craving an enchanting, well-written fairy tale, look no further. When reading this, I truly felt like I was sitting around a crackling fire and listening to an ancient folklore that has been passed down for generations. The story centers around a mysterious girl and her role in keeping the ancient spirits of her world alive as the people of her town stop believing in them. The language is lovely; the world Katherine Arden writes is alive, creative, and engaging.

marlireads's review against another edition

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4.0

3,5

nathalie_r's review

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mysterious

3.0

sch91086's review against another edition

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4.0

3.5 Stars. I want to start by saying I actually really enjoyed most of this book. It was a solid 4 star read right up until the end. Then the last few chapters came and it felt rushed.

This is a Russian fairytale retelling about a girl named Vasilisa who sees the house spirits her people once prayed to and left offerings for. The town folk call her witch. She is not like other girls her age. She has no desire to get married. She wants only to be free and run wild in the woods.

The setting is told very well. It was very easy to picture the small, cold, Russian farming town in which this was set, or envision the huge oven the family sometimes slept on to keep warm. The vast expanse of woods near her home.

I don't know much about the original fairytale this was based on, so I can't comment on the accuracy of it. This was a slow burn kind of read, but the writing was excellent and keeps you engaged regardless. The middle and end of the book is twisting and turning and will have you on the edge of your seat.

I adored Vasilisa as a character. She is not pretty (her nickname is frog). She is not well loved by anyone but her father, nurse, and siblings. She is very levelheaded most of the time, in a town where so many others seem consumed with madness. She is brave and courageous. I also enjoyed Dunya, the nurse, even if she was somewhat stereotypical, and her brother, Alyoshka, always trying to protect her.

I deducted half a star because the ending just felt wrong. Here we are meandering through this wondrous tale and then BAM! it ends and the reader is left with quite a few questions.

*possible spoilers ahead*

For example: this trinket the frost demon spends so much of his time trying to convince Dunya to give to Vasilisa, does next to nothing and is never really explained. It plays no large part in the ending. It's just this thing we spend entire chapters reading about that hangs around Vasilisa's neck.

The frost demon, who needed Vasilisa so badly, supposedly to defeat the baddie, never explains his motives. In fact, when they finally meet he seems to try his level best to take Vasilisa back home.

The final fight seemed too easy. We have this huge buildup, with all these other factors contributing to the ending (I'm thinking of the offerings and religious undertones), and all seem ignored in favor of a physical fight.

*end spoilers*

All in all- I will probably check out the sequel eventually. I'm not in any huge rush. It's a shame that ending really left so much to be desired. I didn't feel anything when it was over. Just a confused: "That's it?" But overall I'm curious enough about the characters and enjoyed the writing enough to continue. I'd recommend this to fans of Russian folklore or readers who like a good fairytale.