The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

I want to start as saying that I’ve had this book on my shelves for a little bit, we’re talking since it was first released in January 2017. That’s 2 years that it has just been waiting on my shelves to be read. When it first came out I remember hearing a lot about it, but for some reason never picked it up right away. Part of my 2019 bookish goals is to read 12 books that have just been waiting to be read. The Bear and the Nightingale was apart of the list and the first I decided to pick off the list. I can say that I enjoyed it, but it did take me a while to get into.

I had heard from some fellow readers that it was a slow one to get into, I just had to hang in there and follow through, so that is exactly what I did. Let’s start with the breakdown, TBATN is based on Russian folklore. We have Vasilisa, also known as Vasya who is a special girl with some untapped gifts. She has the lovely task of protecting her people and defeating the bad guy. Of course, we also have a stepmother who says that Vasya controls demons and is the fault for all the bad things happening. Then comes the Frost demon who is a fairytale told to keep children in line and every wise Russian knows to have a little fear towards (by the way I actually like the Frost Demon and hope to see more of him in the other books). We have some action, conspiracy, back-alley deals, crazed women, and creatures of old.

There are plenty of things that attracted me to the story, the only thing I didn’t enjoy was the pace. It is definitely a slow read. I was annotating while reading that did slow me down a little but was mainly the pace. It could have been a little bit faster in my opinion. What I really enjoy about this story is the world and Arden’s ability to really make me feel as if I am right there. Even though I found the story a little too slow paced for me, I did really enjoy the world and how I felt transported.

My favorite bits were within the last 5 chapters of the book. When I reached that point all the action kicked in and didn’t let me go. I like when a story can really turn it around for me because it was touch and go there for a second. Now I just need to get my hands on the rest of the trilogy. Even though I am on a buying ban, I plan on keeping my eye on deals. If you like Russian folklore, twists, and turns, and can handle a slower pace then I recommend giving this a read. I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars and look forward to the rest of the trilogy.

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