Author: Katherine Arden
Date of Publication: 12th January 2017
An ARC was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review. My thanks go to Katherine Arden and Random House UK for the opportunity.
When I saw the reviews begin to pour in, comparing this to Uprooted by Naomi Novik, I could barely contain my excitement. Uprooted is one of my favourite fantasy reads of all time. However I was skeptical. Could anything really be so utterly fantastic?
The answer is resoundingly yes. The Bear and the Nightingale showcases both immense writing talent and a boundless imagination from Katherine Arden. This is a truly impressive debut. Her careful and elaborate weaving of Rus’ was worthy of even the most nimble fingered babushka. A world rich with people, places and magic makes a wonderous backdrop to the story of a girl who can see the fantastical.
Each character is beautifully realised, with both light and dark reflected in their creation. There is no simplicity, and as a result there is no straight path for them to follow. Just like in Uprooted, the forest is a character in itself; infecting and altering all those who come in contact with it. The duality is what made a character like Father Konstantin flawed and achingly human instead of monstrous, or our heroine Vasya alternately foolish and brave instead of infallible.
I cannot recommend this read highly enough. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to get hold of an ARC then I would mark 12th January in your calendar. Katherine Arden is someone I will be watching very closely in the future; her work is like hot honey bread; to be savoured