Review of the Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Rating: 4/5

Recommend: Yes!


I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Bear and the Nightingale is a beautiful fairy tale of a story inspired by Russian folklore. While technically this book is a fantasy, the realistic setting and the subtlety of the magic make it feel more like historical fiction than fantasy. You all should definitely check this book out!

I love fairy tale retellings, but I’m often hesitant to read them because so many fall flat of my expectations. I’m happy to say, however, in this case my expectations were more than exceeded. Arden seamlessly mixed traditional folklore with her own unique take on those myths. I was so impressed with the level of world-building in this book.

The protagonist, Vasya, is a strong, delightful young woman who instantly won my heart. Throughout the novel, she constantly struggles to create herself in a world where a woman’s options are painfully limited. In the end, this book is just as much about her own personal journey as it is about the magical forces that threaten her world.

At times the book moved a bit too slowly for my taste, particularly in the beginning. But overall I found this story to be so enchanting and engrossing. I would highly recommend checking out The Bear and the Nightingale. Katherine Arden is definitely an author to keep your eye on. I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next!


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