Copy received via NetGalley for an honest review.
I thank my luck stars every day for making me fortunate enough to be given an arc of this book. The Bear and the Nightingale was one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. It was enchanting and haunting, brilliant and oh so magical. I could not put the book down! It transported me to the vast wilderness of Old Russia and its rich, mythical landscape filled with mysteries and and secrets that are never what you think they are. Sitting here in my reading nook in a country that has never seen snow, I felt goosebumps travelling up my arm as I read Arden’s lyrical prose that literally brought shivers down my spine. It brought to mind starlight and moonlight, fire and snow, creatures as old as time, and people living in the boundaries of fantasy and reality.
I’ve always been fascinated with Russian literature ever since I saw the movie Anastasia (LOVED IT SO MUCH. HAVE YOU SEEN IT?), and I was attracted to the grim histories of the czars. It always struck to me how ancient their land is and I wanted so badly to read more books about it. I had read Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, and even though it was only based on Russian culture, it didn’t feel enough for me. It didn’t capture the mystical aura that surrounds that vast land. Yet, The Bear and the Nightingale did and I have never been happier to have been sated of my thirst (lol) for Old Russia.
I loved it even more for the cast of characters – both human and not – that were all genuine and realistic. They all had their own views and principles that made me either root for them, hate them, and love them all at the same time because they were just so tangible, almost as if I could be talking to them right now and I wouldn’t be surprised at all. Really, I would love to have a conversation with the domovoi, he’s so cute! Also, the themes that Arden discusses are still very relevant today as it was before – the battle between new beliefs and age-old customs, tradition and religion, can still be found today in our modern world where they still impact human lives.
To be honest, I was a bit deflated when I heard that it was going to be a series since the next books might just ruin it for me. I loved the open-ended ending and it felt enough for me to leave Vasya’s tale at that, because it might take away the mystery surrounding her and that really wouldn’t do. All the same, if this is how Katherine Arden debuts – in such a grand scale – then I am prepared to be swept away by her words into another reality.
And now I need to buy the hardbacks like, immediately. *sigh
Good thing there’s Book Depository.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Rating: 5 stars