The Bear and the Nightingale really has so many aesthetics within it–it is magical, whimsical, spiritual, family-oriented, and just plain beautiful. The story is about Vasya, the youngest child of Pyotor and Marina Vladimirovic. Marina dies in childbirth, and Vasya grows up to be a fiercely independent and strong-willed young woman who cares not only for her family members, but for the spirits of her house and of the woods. But these are the “old gods,” pushed out when Christianity comes to the villiage.
To me, the story unfolded incredibly slowly. I was very tempted to walk away in the beginning. But then, the Russian folklore begins to weave into the story–snowdrops in midwinter, Father Frost, the Sea-King’s Daughter, and Vasilisa the Beautiful (feel free to use Google for any of these stories!). How they were written and their seamlessness in the story was so great. What I did not like, however, was how confusing a few of the characters were, as well as the passing of time. Katherine Arden’s writing can be so beautiful and descriptive about certain things, but then I feel like I’m completely missing out on details regarding certain other things.
Now, here is my final comment: I realize that so many people loved this book. Maybe I took the wrong path by listening to the audiobook. I really did not enjoy this book, so I am going to give this one some time and try to pick up a hard copy later down the line and see if reading it with my own eyes gives me a different experience. Or maybe I should just move on and read book two in hard copy format. I’ll think about it. Either way, I am interested in the plot and the folklore aspect so I’m not ready to give up on Vasilisa yet.
Soundtrack: “Monsters” by Seafret