I'm a bookworm of the highest caliber! If you see me, I'll probably be reading. There's nothing I love more than finding a good book, and then sharing it with the world!
Gorgeous. Stunning. Absolutely breathtaking. Any of those words and phrases barely skim the surface of how impressed I was by this well-woven tale. Fairy tales will always have a special place in my heart. I relish the feeling of being swept off into a new world or, in this case, a world that is right on the borders of our very own. Arden's tale pulls together Russian folklore into a tale that will have you breathless with equal parts excitement and fear. It's a beautiful thing.
Characters like Vasilisa have always been my favorite. Stubborn, willful, strong to a point where they actually cause others to fear their strangeness. Vasilisa is a woman on the fringes. She's a character who doesn't conform to norms, and is better because of it. In other words, she's everything I aspire to be. Arden wastes no time in pushing Vasilisa towards her ultimate fate and, to her credit, Vasilisa faces it head on. I was mesmerized by her, and it made this story fly by. I could have read many more pages following this amazing woman.
As mentioned above, the Russian folklore is really the star of the show here though. As the children sat around the fire, to hear tales of bravery and death, so did I. Arden brought to life the winter demon, his black-hearted brother, and all the household spirits that populated this story. As Vasilisa grew to know them, and love and hate them as called for, so did I. I found myself so immersed in this story, that I actually felt angry when people pulled me away from it. My one wish was to find out what became of our brave protagonist, and the family that she would do anything to protect.
The Bear and the Nightingale is my first five-starred review of 2017, and well deserving of that honor. This is the kind of book that you buy in hardcover, so that it will survive many re-reads to come. If this isn't already on your reading list, it should be. It really, really should.