The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden


Vasilisa is the wild and unruly daughter of an aristocratic father in rural Russia. The revered family nurse told folktales and fairy stories to all of the children growing up, and the differences between reality and fairyland blur a bit for the brave, wild heroine.

There are things around their home, in the woods, in the lakes, which Vasilisa quickly learns that no one else can see. She has the sight-and she tries to keep it a secret for the sake of her family’s reputation. The peasants are a superstitious lot, and when a priest settles into the area, Vasilisa’s troubles multiply in the extreme.

Too late, Vasilisa learns that she has some kind of pre-destiny tying her to the demon of Frost and his brother, the Bear. Hard times come upon her village, and she must find a balance between denying her birthright and authentic self, and protecting her family from harm.

Darkness is moving in- and there will be blood to pay. No one is safe.

The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden, weaves fantasy and folklore into a story about the harsh terrain that was rural Russia centuries ago. Superstition runs rampant, and demons roam the earth. Vasilisa is strong, valiant, enduring.

If you enjoy magical realism or folklore from around the world , I cannot recommend The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden, enough.

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