At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
My Review of The Bear and the Nightingale
The Bear and the Nightingale is set in Russia and is based on Russian myths and fairytales. I love fairytale’s and modern retellings of them, and this one is dark and chilling, and just beautifully written.
I liked how it starts quite slowly when Vasilisa is born. Vasilisa’s family live in a big house deep in the Russian countryside, their winters are cold and long and getting caught outside at night means death. The author spends a lot of time creating a world of long dark winters, honey cakes, woods and wildness and the magical characters that live in them. It’s easy to lose yourself in the atmosphere that’s created, I could feel the cold along with the characters!
Vasilia is wonderful, wild and raised to be independent, she has magic and power of her own that becomes more apparent as she gets older. The story gets more magical and a lot darker as Vasilia has to fight to save her family and her village from the Bear.
Very readable, and I absolutely recommend it. I didn’t want to put it down, and I stayed up far too late to finish the last few chapters.
I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.