12 January 2017

Bookishness / The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Read _ in bed, with hopes that I would awaken in a clearing of fir trees and snow

A beautiful and haunting world in which
the veil between the real and spirit realms has disappeared …

I was born in the middle of a snowstorm, so in some ways, the protagonist of The Bear and the Nightingale, Vasilisa, is a kindred spirit. She is also a youngest child with a healthy streak of contrariness – something I can relate to, for better or worse.

But that’s where the similarities end. Vasilisa – or Vasya for short – is a child of the wilderness, the fourth child of a lord in the frigid Russian hinterland. She’s impish, crafty, and gets herself into all kinds of scrapes like a typical kid. But she can also see and communicate with the spirits of the home and natural world, an ability that is both a blessing and a curse. When her stepmother and an attractive young priest campaign to cleanse the village of its demons, Vasya is thrust into the critical role of protecting and restoring the balance.