Young Vasilisa lives at the edge of the Russian wilderness where winter lasts most of the year with her father and siblings. It is here that Vasilisa’s gathers the children around the fire at night and tells them the tale of Frost, a much feared blue eyed winter demon that will claim wary souls. The nurse tells the children that as much as Frost is feared they must honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil.
Vasilisa is different from other children, she’s able to see the spirits that surround the land around the family. A bit of a wild side Vasilisa spends her time roaming the forrest and interacting with the spirits. After Vasilisa’s mother passed away her father traveled to Moscow to find a new wife. The new stepmother shares Vasilisa’s vision and forbids the interaction with what she thinks are demons in her new home.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden is a historical fantasy read that is heavily influenced by Russian folklore and fairy tales. The author did a wonderful job in my opinion with the world building and characters in this story to make a reader feel like it was medieval Russia in the bitter cold as the story develops.
My one drawback with this read leading me to only rate this one 3.5 stars was the pacing of the book. I’m not a huge fan of a slower pace read most of the time and this one did take a very slow route following Vasilisa throughout her life as the story builds from her childhood into adulthood. This is simply personal preference and not by any means a slight on the wonderful story created within this book. I did enjoy the story overall when finished but would simply prefer a faster pace when reading.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.