This review is written with thanks to Ebury Publishing and Netgalley for my copy of The Bear and the Nightingale.
Pyotr Vladimirovich ventures to town to find a wife who can be a stepmother to his children following the death of their mother, Marina. During his visit, he meets the Winter King, who gives him a jewel that he must present to his daughter, Vasilisa. Vasilisa is given the jewel when she is older, but as mysterious forces threaten to harm the people in her village, she realises that she, armed with her jewel, is the only one who is able to save her family. Will she convince them of this in time?
The Bear and the Nightingale is set in Russia, where there are long winters and plenty of snow. Arden's descriptions of the Russian landscape are captivating, and this allowed me to fully immerse myself in the surroundings of the novel and the story Arden tells.
Vasilisa is a stubborn child, who grows into a headstrong young woman. Her nature contradicts what she is taught by Russian society, and this makes her character very engaging. I found it very easy to empathise with, and relate to Vasilisa throughout the novel, and this encouraged me to keep reading.
Fantasy is not a genre I would usually read; however, I was fascinated by the demons and spirits in The Bear and the Nightingale, and the importance they held in the novel, both for the character of Vasilisa and the themes in the novel, such as religion and death, that they help to convey. I was particularly intrigued by Vasilisa's relationship with the spirits, and found this aspect of the novel very engaging. However, as there were so many demons and spirits, at times it was confusing as to what each demon or spirit represented.
The Bear and the Nightingale is published on 12th January and is available from Amazon.