Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Well, this was darker than I expected! Which always means extra points with me.
The Bear and The Nightingale follows Vasilisa, a young girl with the gift to see creatures no one else sees, as her father decides to re-marry. The new wife is a devout catholic young woman who fiercely demands that the old rituals be ceased, so that this Russian village in the middle of the wilderness can finally see the light of the Catholic God. But as misfortune increases, Vasilisa tries to maintain the old costumes alive to save her village from an old, dangerous creature from the creepiest fairy tales she heard…
This book is hardly a story – it’s an experience. The darkness and magic throughout it is so wonderfully interwoven within the world, I could almost feel the chill deep in my bones, the fear and ignorance of people, the danger creeping from between what is being said. I loved reading about this retelling of Russian fairy tales and the uniqueness of the main character, Vasilisa. Each of the creatures presented was fascinating and fit perfectly in the story.
I read it as a Halloween read, but I think as a winter read it would have been even more perfect! It’s not a long book, a bit above 300 pages, so it’s quite perfect for an afternoon of coziness and watching the cold wind howling. I need to re-read this, I think it’s the kind of book that I will like even more upon re-reading.
Trigger Warnings: goriness, religious intolerance, sexism.