Book Name: The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy #1)
Author: Katherine Arden
Genre: Historical, fantasy, fiction, YA
Year of release: 2016/2017
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. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls…
…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.
There is a wishlist comprising the women I want to have a consensual polyamorous relationship with (Tana French tops the list).
After wrapping up “The Bear and the Nightingale”, I would like to add Katherine Arden in the commune.
There are books that make me want to shake booty, sing tunelessly or try for a somersault. “The Bear and the Nightingale” is that book for me.
Here’s the quick run-down why you have to read it-
1. A firecracker protagonist
Vasya, the kickass heroine, is the 14th-century counterpart of Katniss Everdeen.
Here, Vasya was battling out
i) evil supernatural powers,
ii) the societal diktat that if a woman doesn’t get married, she should go straight to the nunnery and
iii) tackling gender identity, feminism during medieval Rus’ without knowing that these would be raging issues worldwide 700 years down the line.
Oh, I also love my girl-crushes to be wild. And Vasya is just that.
2. The writing
You heard that “You had me at hello” phrase from “Jerry Maguire”, right?
Well, Katherine Arden did it for me from the first line itself.
The vivid imagery of a cold, eerie Rus’ hamlet she painted felt like the lushness of the “Mead” ( honey-wine) that acted as a pick-me-up in the book.
3. The romance
The hardcore b***h I’m gently becoming, romantic novels don’t set my heart ablaze anymore.
But the tinge of romance brewing Vasya and winter-king Morozko made my stomach flutter.
Morozko is immortal, the god of death, the frost-demon- all combined together.
He is as old as the earth itself (okay, minus few years here and there) and Vasya is an adolescent transitioning to a woman.
In the scenes with crackling undercurrent between them, Morozko always reflected on the age-gap through his manner and his admiration for the girl, who by no means is a damsel in distress.
4. A book for an idiot’s guide to medieval, rustic Rus’
If I’m ever going to pet a cat, I’m going to name her after Baba Yaga.
In case, I decide to zero on a dog, he will be named Domovoi.
No, I’m damn serious.
The labor of love the author had undergone shines on every page.
Did you know that till 17th century the term “Russia” was unheard of? Before that, it was only Rus’ or land of Rus’.
Thank you Katherine Arden for this interesting piece of history.
5. A fairy tale for adults
I refuse to label it under the YA category. This is the book for OA (old adult) or AA (“adulating” adult) alike.
ii)labeling women who didn’t tick off the boxes as witches,
iii) the awakening of “feminist men” who were victims of that era themselves (hello Pyotr Vladimirovich, I’m talking about you)
iv) gender politics etc.
This is an atmospheric, bone-chilling fairy tale that would make you fall in love with Russia.
- Russia deserves hosting world-cup.
- I’m already dreaming about visiting Moscow, sipping on Kvas and nibbling on my honeycakes.
- This book (almost) made me having the feels for Putin too (because of rus’ connection).
But I shook myself off it in time.
So when the WC is over, do yourself a favor and dig the book – a story of a girl and beast with a twist.
Do you have any other historical fantasy novel recommendation? Spill out.