The Bear and the Nightingale (The Winternight Trilogy, #1) by Katherine Arden

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“Tell the story of Frost, Dunyashka. Tell us of the frost-demon, the winter-king Karachun.”

This book is magical. This book is whimsical. This book is one of the best things I’ve read in my entire life. I loved this with every bone, every red blood cell, every molecule in my body. This book was nothing short of perfection, and I’m sorry to gush, but I never expected this story to captivate me the way it did.

“In Russian, Frost was called Morozko, the demon of winter. But long ago, the people called him Karachun, the death-god. Under that name, he was king of black midwinter who came for bad children and froze them in the night.”

I’m not even sure where to begin with this story, but I guess I will start by saying that this story is a love letter to stories everywhere. This book is a mash-up retelling of many Russian fairy tales, but with unique spins of them, which are woven together to tell such a beautiful tale that makes me breathless just thinking about how expertly it is crafted.

Vasilisa and her family live on the edge of the Russian wilderness. Vasilisa’s father rules these lands, and her mother died giving birth to her, knowing that she was special. Vasilisa was raised by her mother’s nursemaid, who is constantly telling her fairy tales that most Russians fear, but Vasilisa loves.

“You must remember the old stories. Make a stake of rowan-wood. Vasya, be wary. Be brave.”

Vasilisa soon realizes that she is indeed special, and that she can see creatures that most people cannot. And, again, instead of feeling fear, she feels compassion and befriends and takes care of all the different creatures that dwell on her lands.

And even though Vasilisa’s family accepts her, the rest of the community cannot see past how different she is. Vasilisa’s father tries many different things to get her to want the same things most girls in this time want (marriage, babies, performing “womanly” duties), while Vasilisa only wants to be free and see the world.

Meanwhile, there is a frost-demon that does everything to ensure him and Vasilisa’s paths cross. And Vasilisa couldn’t resist the urge to go to him even if she tried. Then a beautiful story unfolds about a girl, a nightingale, and a bear, who are destined to have a story told.

“Before the end, you will pluck snowdrops at midwinter, die by your own choosing, and weep for a nightingale.”

Like I️ said, it’s now an all time favorite for me! I️ truly loved this story that much. It deserves all the praise, all the hype, and all the love.

This book had absolutely everything that I love in my fantasy:
✘ Feminist as all hell
✘ Magical forest
✘ All the morally grey characters
✘ Mythology and folklore
✘ Little fae folk saving the day
✘ Wintery setting

And when I say that this is the perfect winter read, I mean it with everything that I am. Never have I ever read a better seasonal read. Please give this a try in the upcoming months. I promise you, you won’t regret it

This book was nothing short of magical. From the lyrical prose, to the atmospheric town and forest, to the characters that constantly had me crying, to the message that girls can be anything they want to be, no matter what society tries to confine them to. This book is a tangible piece of heaven and I am so thankful that I was able to read this before the end of 2017, because it truly is a shining star in 2017 publications. I cannot wait to start my ARC of The Girl in the Tower tonight!

“I am only a story, Vasya.”

And this book is extra special to me, because this is the book that all the wonderful people at The Goodreads Power User Summit gave to me! Which makes it all the sweeter that it ended up being one of my favorite books of all time.

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59 thoughts on “The Bear and the Nightingale (The Winternight Trilogy, #1) by Katherine Arden

  1. Wonderful review, Melanie! 💫
    I‘ve heard so many good things about this book, but your review makes me want to pick The Bear and the Nightingale up right this second!!! I mean, fairy tales, feminism and lyrical writing? Sounds great 😍😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly only read it because I got sent an ARC for the second! I’m talking… no expectations… AND IT BLEW ME AWAY! Honestly, top twenty favorite books of all time. And probably the 2nd best book I read this year! AND thank you for your kind words, Hannah! ❄⛄

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really, really want to read it now! I mean, top 25? That’s kind of a huge deal 😍
        And also, how cool is it that you read it just because of the ARC and now you love it and can read the 2nd book immediately? 😊🌸

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is DEFINITELY destiny, I agree 💫
        And also, I absolutely get what you mean? Some books are so good they make you want to go over every other book you ever read and change the star rating, because they just can‘t compare 😅

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhhh! I’m so happy you’ve read (ignore my twitter comment, hah!) It was such a good read, I am so happy I was able to fit it into my 2017 reading! And thank you so much, beautiful! 💗


  2. This makes me even MORE excited to be reading this book now! 😀 I just started reading it for the book club I’m in and I’ve been hearing such amazing things about it. I’m not very far at all yet, but am loving the writing style so far. Seems to be a good read for the month of December, that’s for sure! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such. A. Good. Winter. Read. I’m reading book two right now and it’s the exactly same. I made an embarrassing IG story just gushing about it, but this series is so good! Easily one of my favorites of all time. 💙☃️❄️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay…You’ve convinced me…I NEED to read this book! It’s totally not what I thought it was about! It sounds like something that would be really hard to put down. I love books that have a spin off of OR a aura of fairy tales. They’re always really fascinating to me. Thanks for writing such an awesome review!

    Liked by 1 person

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