This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017. I was so eager to read it, but for some reason, I delayed doing so until later in the year. I was also convinced I would love it. I’d read/listened to a few interviews with Arden and loved what she said about her book and the books that have inspired her over the years. It all made me excited for The Bear and the Nightingale. But maybe I was too excited and eager because when I did read the novel, I thought it underwhelming and didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.
The Bear and the Nightingale is the first novel in a YA fantasy trilogy seeped in Russian history and folklore. It’s about a girl, Vasilia “Vasya” Petrovna, who was born with the fabled powers her grandmother possessed. Vasya can communicate with spirits, fey creatures who protect the hearth and home and help make her father’s lands prosperous.
Vasya’s father is a boyar, a royal who’s similar to a prince, but his lands lay in northern Russia, where winters can be hard and harsh. Though affluent, not many people live on his lands and I got the impression that he oversees a small village of people who help to maintain his lands. Vasya is the youngest of her siblings. Her mother died during childbirth, convinced that finally she has given birth to a child possessing the fabled powers of her maternal line.