The Bear and I

The Bear and the Nightingale

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I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed me. Things are, or they are not. Magic is forgetting that something ever was other than as you willed it. And because you are, you can walk where you will, into peace, oblivion, or pits of fire, but you will always choose. He does not know what he desires, and he does not admit his fear. But he feels both, strong enough to strangle. And both are mine. He glanced down idly. And then they will. I am going into the world, Alyosha.

I will be no one's bride, neither of man nor of God. I am going to Kiev and Sarai and Tsargrad, and I will look upon the sun on the sea. The mare stood with her ears flopping, loose-lipped with enjoyment. Vasya went nearer, fascinated. Always someone else must decide for me. In a Russian village, during the late medieval times, a child is born but the mother dies.

Vasya has inherited the extraordinary, otherworldly gift of her mother, along with her kind heart, her free spirit of adventure and tolerance. Vasya can see what noone else is worthy to see, but her gift puts her in danger when her father decides to wed another woman. The essence of the tale is the battle between the pagan tradition and Christianity. Before Anna came to the community, the people had found the perfect balance between the teachings of Christ and the old Russian deities and traditions.

Until priests started talking of demons, fire, and eternal damnation. In any case, Vasya, Dunya and most of the women are respectful followers of both religions.

We Bare Bears Origin Stories

Anna cannot understand it, locked as she is in her own hallucinations and she descends into a darkness where fear and demons reign. The problem is that she takes everyone else with her. Arden has composed a tale out of many familiar characteristics of Russian fairy tales. The well-known legend of Lord Winter and the beautiful Maiden lies at the heart of it, while we meet the Baba Yaga, the domovoi the peaceful spirits that protect the hearth of the Russian household , the vazila, the enchanting Rusalka The supernatural characters become the heart of the story, because the human characters, well The one who had my unwavering attention was Konstantin, the young priest.

An ambiguous character, fully conflicted, dark and perplexing as he is perplexed. He desperately wants to believe and serve but in what? His interactions with Vasilisa were brilliant and very intriguing. So, does the novel worth the hype? In my opinion, yes. The atmosphere and the transition of the traditional story are exceptionally constructed.

Do I think it would be even better if it was written by a Russian writer? Allow me to say that yes, I believe it would. At times, the writing became a bit too YA, a genre that I do not appreciate much. This is strictly my personal opinion, formed out of many years of familiarity with Russian Literature and Culture. My reviews can also be found on https: Apr 07, Miranda Reads rated it really liked it Shelves: This is the sort of book that sweeps you on a journey.

There are dark forces that you do not understand. Vasilisa "Vasya" Petrovna lives during the "old Russia" - back when fairy and folk tales were not legends. Vasya always possessed the second sight, which made for some interesting conversations with the various creatures living in and Haunting. Vasya always possessed the second sight, which made for some interesting conversations with the various creatures living in and around her home.

All the spirits that live in and around her house were quite peculiar,such as the origins of the domovoi: I am here because the house is here. If the house weren't here, I wouldn't be either Soon, Vasya's gentle childhood - spent conversing with the domovoi and the vazila who guards the stables - is put to an abrupt end. Her father remarries and while the new woman has the second sight, she interprets the gentle protective spirits as "demons.

And, to top it all, a priest moves into their house and is hell-bent ha on saving Vasya's soul but all he succeeds in doing is a lot of fear-mongering and weakening of the protective spirits. He quickly becomes obsessed with Vasya and her impertinence. Without the spirits to protect them, Vasya must face the ever increasing danger of the old gods - alone and armed with nothing by her sheer force of will. I really enjoyed this one - there's just something so magical about having this novel set in the dead of winter with the old gods circling the dimly lit sleepy cottage.

Vasya lives in a world where being a happy homemaker is the highest achievement of any girl. I appreciated how the author showed Vasya's defiance in small ways yet ultimately significant ways - not every girl in YA fiction needs to start an uprising. A soft voice and a bent head were more fitting when a woman addressed a priest. This girl stared at him brazenly in the face with fey green eyes Overall, I really enjoyed this one and have already checked out the sequel - I'm so, so curious to see what happens next!

There is a glossery located in the last few pages. The author used a few common Russian words and a few loose translations i.

I did struggle a bit to hold all the words in my head Katherine Arden's lush and lovely debut novel deftly transports us to Russia in the 14th century with incredible lyricism- scents-sounds-vivid beauty-subtle intrigue- and gorgeous Russian folklore. At the start Marina is frail and weak. She has 4 children and is pregnant with her 5th. Pyotr, her husband, and Dunya, her devoted nurse, both beg Marina not to keep the baby. They are fearful she will die. Marina had given Pyotr 3 sons and 1 daughter Marina said it would be worth leaving her children motherless, to give birth to a daughter with her mothers spirits.

If she died she made Pyotr and Dunya to promise to take care of her. Her daughter, Vasya was born with her grandmothers magical powers, and strengths. We soon notice Vasya has an insurmountable, unyielding amount of breezy - spunky - independent- energy. She marches the beat of a different drummer The first time she got lost in the forest - she ran off to eat her honeycake , she was scared, cold, and shivering. She was lost in the dusk on the cusp of winter and it was going to snow. She meets a man with one gray eye and the other was missing.

She talks to the man. It's been a long time since he has seen a Russian girl. Vasya didn't understand what he meant- but she said: My father is Pyotr Vladimirovich. If you can take me home, he will see you fed, and give you a place beside the oven. It is going to snow". He said he would help her -- but he wanted her to "come here" first and help him.

Bart the Bear

Vasya had no particular reason to be untrusting. One minute she speaks out strong defending herself - but then the next minute she loses faith and feels vulnerable. She is real - whole - so very human! Her brother, Sasha finds her. Dunya and and her father are angry.

They are worried that they Vasya is a wild child who will run off when she feels like it --and become completely unmanageable. The girl needs a mother Pyotr thinks. To control a free spirt? I was wondering how many mother's he consulted for such wisdom of his. Pyotr may have been angry at Vasya - wanting to punish her. She had taken chill, and she had nightmares in which she revisited a one-eye man, a horse, and a stranger in a clearing in the woods". My emotions were soooo invested as this story keeps changing and spinning off in surprising directions.

Vasya 'does' wanders back into the woods as a teenager. Around this same time evil is entering the village. Through Pyotr's marriage and a Priest This book feels like an instant classic -- An enchanting mystical exotic world!!!! Magical is the word that best describes this unusual tale, in every sense. I have to say that I've not read anything quite like this one, but believe me, that IS meant as a compliment. It transports the reader back to medieval Russia, to a place thick with forests and deep crisp glistening snow.

It is here that we find Vasya, and her family. Vasya is a child of nature, a wild and wilful girl. She has powers that leave the villagers questioning the nature of those powers, many believing that she's Magical is the word that best describes this unusual tale, in every sense. She has powers that leave the villagers questioning the nature of those powers, many believing that she's a witch. It's difficult to go into too much detail without spoiling it for other readers, but this is a most unusual tale that reads like a fairytale but was written with a more adult audience in mind.

The imagery is simply wonderful, the characters leap out of the page, and the storyline is a mixture of history and Russian folklore. What an ambitious debut novel this is, but Katherine Arden has pulled it off beautifully. View all 68 comments. Agamemnon sacrificing his daughter to ensure favorable winds as he sails to Troy? Kill him on his own alter. Spanish Inquisitioners torturing anyone not Catholic for the glory of God? Burn them at the stake. The KKK claiming that a darker skin tone is the mark of Cain to justify their prejudice and hate?

String them up in their own front yard. I loved Vasya and most of her family. I was nearly as heartbroken as her father when Sasha left to become a monk. I felt Olga's frustration and amusement at her younger sister who refused to be tamed. And when that creep Karil made eyes at Vasya, I clenched my fists and ground my teeth along with Alyosha. More than the characters, I loved the folklore.

The house spirits, the nature fae, the pagan gods. Vasya's world was steeped in fantastical creatures. The vodianoy who stole Kolya's basket of freshly caught fish, the rusalka who agreed to stop drowning men from the village in exchange for friendship and fresh blossoms, and the vazila who taught Vasya to speak to horses are a mere fraction of what Arden's Rus' has to offer. And if the villains in this tale had been limited to an evil stepmother and a dark god, it would've been my perfect read. Christianity, to be specific, hellbent on choking the life out of everything not equally Christian, and how is this best accomplished?

Fear and intimidation, naturally. It's important to have an unconventional woman at hand, the better to accuse of witchcraft when the opportunity inevitably presents itself. YES, even those rare individuals who hate religious nutters as much as I do--apparently, this is the first book in a trilogy, and as I'm relatively confident that said issue is resolved, which means the next book has even greater potential for awesome.

Looking forward to it. View all 28 comments. Do you know that fuzzy feeling when you find a book with a world so immersive that you don't want it to ever end? This was a book like that for me. I absolutely adored it - and I am not quite sure if this review will at all be coherent, but I'll try my best.

This was a book that I was super super excited to get to read early. I only wanted to read the first chapter because I Do you know that fuzzy feeling when you find a book with a world so immersive that you don't want it to ever end? I only wanted to read the first chapter because I have loads of unfinished books already but I was immediately drawn in and did not feel like reading anything else.

That so rarely happens with me! The book tells the story of Vasya, a child whose mother was a bit other-worldly and who died giving birth to her. Vasya is different herself, being able to converse with household-spirits that nobody else can see. In true fairy tale fashion, her father remarries and the stepmother is, well not exactly evil, but one of the main antagonistic forces of this story.

In a world where the new Christian beliefs are at odds with the older, heathen beliefs, this conflict comes to a head when a new priest is appointed to their little village and sets into motion a series of events that will have the heroine come face to face with arcane powers. Set in the North of Russia with its seemingly ever-lasting winter, the author creates an atmosphere so believable, and enchanting, and surreal, and creepy, and beautiful, I could picture it every step of the way.

Her characters are equally believable and even though they all fit the tropes of the genre, Katherine Arden adds little twists that make this story incredibly original and readable.

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One of my favourite of her decisions was the complete lack of romantic interest the heroine shows. She just wants to decide her life for herself; a difficult thing to do in a time when the two options open for her are a marriage or b joining a convent. Overall, in case anyone missed it, I absolutely adored this book and its main character. The only slight negative I can find is that I found the ending to be rushed; but then again I just didn't want the book to end, ever.

View all 10 comments. While both have always lived together peacefully, a new religious movement disbands practices honoring such spirits, upsetting the balance. This was a buddy read with these two awesome peeps, Rachelle and Mary! The plot was in no hurry as we spend time with Vasya and her family. Each family member had a unique presence I felt every time they entered the scene, and the harsh, frigid setting was so vivid I was reaching for extra blankets. While not an overt rebel like Katniss or Caelena, she still does all she can to enact change and protect those she loves.

Seeing a young woman bask in her own agency is always a delight. Especially in a historical! I am somewhat confused by the ending, however. Namely the rushed conclusion and loose ends I understand this is part of series, but there were so many things Arden spent ample time detailing and setting up that ended up meaning very little.

And the nightingale from the actual title is mentioned maybe once The mythology that builds the entire book reaches a crescendo in the last chapter… but I wanted more??? I got one chapter after all that build up and wanted more monsters. Also, despite Vasya herself being strong without violence, there's an absurd amount of people hitting each other? I swear every other chapter someone 'struck' someone who was screaming or 'slapped' someone they disagreed with.

I wasn't particularly fond of it the first time, and it was annoyingly repetitive. While a lot of the plot sounds very YA, there are some incredibly mature themes throughout the story. Another involves the need for balance between religion and culture. Neither the priest or the townsfolk swearing off the spirits are presented negatively for being religious. Instead, bad stuff starts happening when they start but imposing regulations on others because of said religion. Hopefully the next installment picks up some of the pieces left behind.

I was ready to write this off pretty early. While I tend not to be a fan of the impersonal, sparse although often lovely narration used to tell fairy tales and mythology, I found that Arden used it to great effect here. Vasya, in critical danger of reaching special s 4ish stars. It's always cool to learn the folklore native to different parts of the world.

I especially love the idea of different spirits inhabiting different buildings and creatures and nature. I initially got a decidedly anti-religion vibe with the disparity between the Old Beliefs and Christianity. One significant character in particular embodies the historically accurate evil of using fear and death to force Christianity upon the people at the expense of their cherished beliefs instead of allowing them to co-exist as they had been not cool, bro.

Honestly, I find the religious nut plot device frustrating and contrived but whatever. However, I feel like it wasn't so much the author making a critique on religion in general as it was demonstrating the peril of using fear and constraint to prompt faith Crusades anyone? We're led to believe that Vasya's beloved brother, Sasha, although not heavily featured, provides the foil of a peaceful, respectful and sincere seeker of faith through religion.

Even before I began I wasn't expecting to enjoy this- some books you have to read just because everyone else is- but I'll count it as a wonderfully pleasant surprise. View all 20 comments. Jennifer I'm so pleased to find someone else who didn't swoon over Uprooted! I'm in the minority of people who didn't like book 2 as much I adored the setting of the first book, and the second one feels much more claustrophobic , but am very much looking forward to book 3. Kat I actually stuck with reading this book because of your review.

I pretty much agree with your assessment. Sep 17, Dec 06, Cheri rated it really liked it Shelves: Marina, his wife, tells him that she is with child. Pyotr is not happy, fearful for her life. She is already physically weak. This story centers on a young woman named Vasya who takes her first breaths of life even as her mother takes her last. As a young woman, Vasya is free to do what she wishes most of her days. She develops a bond with the horses, speaking to them, whispering sweetness until they trust her enough to come to her willingly. As sweet as Vasya can be, she is a force of nature, filled with determination, strong-willed and independent, while also filled with a strong family bond.

She loves her family, and will do what is necessary to protect them. An enchanting tale set in an extraordinarily lovely, atmospheric setting, a blend of fairy-tale, folklore, myths, and history with a strong young heroine leading the way.

The Bears and I

Set in a Fantasy-esque Medieval Russia with Russian folklore, this was supposed to be my jam. It should have been. It started out well and somewhere down the line, in the last third part of the book particularly, I View all 18 comments. Always someone else must decide for me. But this I will decide for myself. From the very beginning, we can feel how the story takes root in the classic fairy tale formula.

However, none of these character desig Actual Rating: However, none of these character designs came across as overused or cliche. Instead, it created that warm sense of nostalgia that we all feel whenever we hear our favorite childhood stories. I felt as though I already had a level of intimacy with the characters before meeting them because I have met them before in their previous incarnations.

A similar familiarity exists within the plot structure. This in combination with the Russian influence really made for a charming read. Arden's writing style is full of luxurious detail. Where this book fell short for me is in its reread value; I don't see myself ever wanting to reread this in the future. That isn't always a bad thing, as there are many wonderful books I'm sure I'll never reread.

However, I had the distinct thought "I can't see myself wanting to experience this story a second time," despite the positive feelings of nostalgia it brought me. Those who enjoyed the atmosphere of Novik's Uprooted but wanted more from the story, or fancied the setting of Leigh Bardugo 's Grisha trilogy I think will find a this read on their favorites list. View all 14 comments. Medieval Russia, though it is called only Rus, Russia not yet an entity, the fourteenth century, and a young woman who has inherited the sight of her Royal ancestor.

Exquisitely written, brilliant and evocative imagery, fully fleshed characters and a fantastic rendering of the history of this time period, seamlessly woven with the myths and folklore of Russian lore. The first half, the cold, what can be seen by a few but not by most of the ancient creatures that guard the homes forest, the horse Medieval Russia, though it is called only Rus, Russia not yet an entity, the fourteenth century, and a young woman who has inherited the sight of her Royal ancestor. The first half, the cold, what can be seen by a few but not by most of the ancient creatures that guard the homes forest, the horses.

When a priest Konstantine, comes unwillingly to the village, he decides the people and their old ways and beliefs are an affront to God. That stirs up things better left sleeping, and Vasya will eventually have to intercede with great peril to her life. Vasya is a young woman who can see what most cannot, who can speak to those most cannot and embraces what is known and unknown. Such a wonderful job is done with the sights and sounds, the daily living of those during this time period, from the reaches of Moscow to this village where Vasya lives with her family.

The fires, the dangers in the woods, the huge stove the family sleeps on when it is too cold, the author had to have immersed herself not only in this time period but in the old legends and fairy tales. So different from what I normally read, not a big fantasy fan and I am not sure if this qualifies as fantasy, more a fairy tale with a side of historical fiction.

The author never loses sight of the main narrative despite all the strange happenings and I found that amazing. In short I loved this story. This was another fantasy novel that I thought was absolutely wonderful! I definitely lost myself in this richly entertaining Russian folklore tale. I was extremely excited to read this one after seeing some early reviews of this book and I was not disappointed!

I totally loved the magical journey that this book took me on! There was a minor problem that I had with this story though -- which I found a little bit disruptive to the flow for me. Some of the characters were addressed by multiple names and I had to figure out if it was a new character or if it was one that I was already introduced to. Once I figured that out, then it was easy to follow along with all the characters involved and the storyline.

There is also a glossary of Russian words with their descriptions in the back of the book that was very helpful to me while reading this book. To sum it all up, this was an enjoyable, very imaginative, and an extremely interesting novel with a very eye-catching cover that had me totally engrossed in this magical and mystical tale. View all 46 comments. Apr 04, James rated it liked it Shelves: Then a friend of mine, Valerie , was planning to read it. We decided to do a buddy read together earlier this month. She meets strange creatures who no one el 3 out of 5 stars to The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden , the first in a fantasy and historical fiction series about Russian fairy tales.

She meets strange creatures who no one else can see. Her father remarries to provide her with a mother figure, then has more children. Something happens in the background where there is a war between religions, people and culture. It's a battle to maintain your village and your family, but also to connect the past with the future. It's pages or 28 chapters long. Chapters are about 10 to 12 pages, told in third person. Strengths It had absolutely beautiful imagery and lyrical prose. You truly feel transported to a new world full of complex characters, interesting plots and high imagination.

There is a lot of great history and views on religion, politics and royalty. You believe you are in Russia dealing with true occurrences and fantastic situations. Concerns The language was too confusing for me, often leaving me wonder what was real and what was fantasy. I'm not normally a fantasy reader, so it might have been partially my fault. Names on the characters change a bit too often, which made it slightly difficult for me to recall who each person was.

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Final Thoughts I had been in a reading slump and was working on the final chapters of my own book. I might have been distracted while reading this one. I wanted to love it, but I didn't. I think it's a strong book, and for that, I settled on a 3 rating. It is good, just not the right match for me. About Me For those new to me or my reviews I read A LOT. I write A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https: Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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Thankyou for such a beautiful story, you reminded me of all those Russian folklores I read as a child, huddled in my bed in a quiet summer noon. As the girl gets older, we see she has a special connection with animals and the forest and can see and speak with spirits. Uninterested in the cub and distracted by his wound, the adult bear warns the young orphan away with a growl. Beautifully written to encourage imagination. Sammy, The Way-Out Seal.

View all 30 comments. Dec 11, Karen rated it really liked it. I finished this book just now on the day we got our first snowstorm here in southeast Michigan. A fitting day to read this book. I was swept away to Midevil Russia where it seemed to be always cold and snowy, and to the world of magical creatures and forests, just a great atmospheric reading experience.

So, you really ought to read this, preferably this winter, you will like it! View all 34 comments. Go get it, quick! May 17, US Amazon So, there are tons of reviews for this already. I guess here is another one. The story takes place in a re-imagined historical Russia. Way back when people left bits of bread and milk for the household spirits and believed supernatural beings controlled the weather and lived in trees and water.

A woman descended from witches finally has a last child who has the magic before dying. She is raised by her father and nurse, with an older sister and three brothers. As the girl gets older, we see she has a special connection with animals and the forest and can see and speak with spirits. The world she is raised in has no room for females like her. Women either get married or go to a convent. They sew and cook and have babies. Vasya is not made for marriage or convents. So how can she find her place in the world? I loved this book.

Some have had varying opinions on whether this is similar to Uprooted, and I also gave that book five stars, so I think the comparison, while maybe not perfect, is accurate enough. This reads a bit like a dark fairytale. I enjoyed rooting for Vasya and loved her relationship with horses and the other mythological creatures.