Series: Winternight Book 1
Length: 368 pages
Audiobook Length: 11 hours and 48 minutes
First Published: 2017
In medieval Russia, Vasya and her family live in the far north, where winter lasts most of the year. She loves to hear tales of spirits who live that protect their home from evil, especially of the Frost Demon. When Vasya’s mother dies and her father remarries, her stepmother forbids the pagan practices, the tweaked household spirits cannot protect them from a growing evil.
I was completely drawn into Katherine Arden’s imaginative historical fantasy series describing the conflict between Christianity and paganism in 1300s Russia. Arden beautifully blends folklore with an unforgettable atmospheric fantasy and gives a vibrant female heroine for you to fall in love with.
Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, Vasya loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. Wise Russians fear him, for he claims unwary souls, and they honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil.
Then Vasya’s widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow. Fiercely devout, Vasya’s stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. And indeed, misfortune begins to stalk the village.
But Vasya’s stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for marriage or a convent. As the village’s defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has long concealed—to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
Quotes from The Bear and the Nightingale
Wild birds die in cages.
It is a cruel task, to frighten people in God’s name.
We who live forever can know no courage, nor do we love enough to give our lives.
I’d rather my sons living, and my daughters safe, than a chance at glory for unborn descendants.
About Katherine Arden
Katherine Arden is the author of the Winternight Trilogy: The Bear and The Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower, and The Winter of the Witch. She has lived in Russia and France, and studied both Russian and French Literature in college. She currently lives in Vermont. Visit the author’s website →