Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Bear and the Nightingale” as Want to Read:
The Bear and the Nightingale
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Bear and the Nightingale

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  1,214 Ratings  ·  645 Reviews
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid ni ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 10th 2017 by Del Rey
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Bear and the Nightingale, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Katherine Arden Hi Anne, Love that question. The Bear and the Nightingale is the first of three. The second one is being edited now; it is pretty much done. And yes!…moreHi Anne, Love that question. The Bear and the Nightingale is the first of three. The second one is being edited now; it is pretty much done. And yes! The three main characters in Book 2 are Vasya, her brother Sasha and her sister Olga. You will have lots of book 2 Sasha for sure. Thanks for reaching out. I'm so glad you enjoyed The Bear and the Nightingale! (less)
Katherine Arden So, Morozko is the name of the Russian Jack Frost, a winter demon who is sometimes benevolent and sometimes cruel. He features in multiple fairy…moreSo, Morozko is the name of the Russian Jack Frost, a winter demon who is sometimes benevolent and sometimes cruel. He features in multiple fairy tales. What I found interesting about this character though is he has his mythical roots in slavic paganism, as a dark god of winter and death called Chernobog. He evolved over the years from a pretty powerful deity to sort of a wicked fairy-tale creature, and finally (after some European influence) to Ded Moroz, the Russian Father Christmas. I found this journey (from wicked pagan god to giver of treats to children) absolutely fascinating, and I wondered what would go through such a character's mind as he was making that transition over the centuries. Anyway. Um, do Russians know of their pagan past? I certainly can't speak for the country as a whole. I know there are historians and casual enthusiasts who know a great deal about it, and there are definitely practicing pagans in Russia today. I would venture to say that the average Russian knows more fairy tales and fairy tale characters than they do Slavic deities and practices. If that helps :)(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details

In northern Rus’ the family of Pyotr Vladimirovich are waiting out the last days and nights of winter, with rapidly dwindling food supplies gathered before the winter snows began. Marina, his wife, tells him that she is with child.

Pyotr is not happy, fearful for her life. She is already physically weak. Marina had wanted another daughter, although they’d already have three sons and a daughter. She’s determined to carry this child to term, sure that this girl child will carry
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
4.5 stars! Now on sale, as of 1/10/17. Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

In the northern lands of medieval Rus’, a daughter is born to Pyotr Vladimirovich, a boyar, lord over many lands, and his wife Marina, who dies in childbirth. But Marina, daughter of the Grand Prince of Moscow and a mysterious, swan-like beggar girl, has bequeathed her daughter Vasilisa a mystical heritage.

Vasilisa the Brave (or Beautiful)

Vasilisa, or Vasya, grows up to be a spirited and rather rebellious yo
Dec 08, 2016 Paromjit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, fantasy
This is an atmospheric and intoxicating read that draws on history and Russian fairytales. Set in medieval times, it charts the origins of Vasya's birth and her mother's determination to have a daughter endowed with her grandmother's powers despite it meaning her death in childbirth. The novel begins with Dunya telling the story of Frost, a harbinger for what comes later.

Vasya is an enchanting rough and tumble girl, more at home in the wild outdoors and who chafes at the limitations pressed upo
Robin Hobb
Nov 12, 2015 Robin Hobb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished reading an ARC of this forthcoming book. You will have to wait until 201 to get your hands on it.

First, a metaphor. Have you ever been about to eat something, thinking it's flavored with vanilla and cinnamon? Then you bite into it and discover ginger and nutmeg (also favorites of mine.)

This book is a bit like that. It's fantasy. Okay, I've read lots of that. It's told rather like a fairy tale. Okay, ready for that.

It's told a bit like a Russian fairy tale only the setting is very
Simona Bartolotta
Nov 27, 2016 Simona Bartolotta rated it really liked it
*I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*


"I?" said Morozko. "I am only a story, Vasya."

Fairy-tales and folklore, magic and snow, and an untameable “wild maiden” right out of a story.
Well, colour me delighted.

The Bear and the Nightingale undoubtedly is a delicious novel. For one thing, it's cleverly written, and my friends from Russia and Belarus and Ukraina (I'm linking their reviews down below) assure me it shows an incredible amount of resear
Jan 10, 2017 Hannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loved-it, fantasy, arc
Now Available!

Do you know that fuzzy feeling when you find a book with a world so immersive that you don't want it to ever end? This was a book like that for me. I absolutely adored it - and I am not quite sure if this review will at all be coherent, but I'll try my best.

This was a book that I was super super excited to get to read early. I love books set in Russia, especially the North of Russia; I love Fairy Tales; I love the books the blurb compared it to. I only wanted to read the first chap

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via First to Read program.

By the shore of the sea stands a green oak tree;
Upon the tree is a golden chain:
And day and night a learned cat
Walks around and around on the chain;
When he goes to the right he sings a song,
When he goes to the left he tells a tale.
—a. s. Pushkin

A learned cat's fact number 1: A book that starts with words of one of the greatest and loved Russian authors and poets. I love Pushkin. I don't know a person or a child in

Candace (Literary Dust)
Dec 15, 2016 Candace (Literary Dust) rated it really liked it
This one was hard to rate. It is not a fast paced book at all, but a slow and powerful build. I really liked the beginning and the different characters, I had to get used to the characters names and how there were like all these different names for one person. When the priest comes into town, it really slowed the book down for me up until I got to about 65% on my Kindle. The book finally picks up, and I couldn't put the book down. I really wish there would have been more to the ending because it ...more
Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*

'The Bear and the Nightingale' isn't an easy book to define in terms of genre. It's a beautiful story that weaves fairy tale with old legend and myth while holding a true, authentic feel. For part of it I thought it may be a strange romance in the end but that's not quite right. There's genuine suffering amid the legend (the author made winter frost harsh and cruel but simply awesome in its twisted way), but also a bonding and building of relationships, especially in the family.

I know nothing re
Oct 17, 2016 Kaora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-fantasy
I had high expectations for this book after hearing it compared to Uprooted by Naomi Novik, and I am happy to say that I was not at all disappointed.

The Bear and the Nightingale pulled me in immediately, with the stunning writing. I do not know a lot about Russian culture or fairy tales, but the author did a great job in making the Russian creatures and names accessible to his English readers. It presented an alternate view of creatures I knew already like the rusalka and allowed me to learn abo
Nov 02, 2016 Maureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Magical is the word that best describes this unusual tale, in every sense. I have to say that I've not read anything quite like this one, but believe me, that IS meant as a compliment.

It transports the reader back to medieval Russia, to a place thick with forests and deep crisp glistening snow. It is here that we find Vasya, and her family. Vasya is a child of nature, a wild and wilful girl. She has powers that leave the villagers questioning the nature of those powers, many believing that she's
Diane S ☔
Nov 23, 2016 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
Medieval Russia, though it is called only Rus, Russia not yet an entity, the fourteenth century, and a young woman who has inherited the sight of her Royal ancestor. Exquisitely written, brilliant and evocative imagery, fully fleshed characters and a fantastic rendering of the history of this time period, seamlessly woven with the myths and folklore of Russian lore. The first half, the cold, what can be seen by a few but not by most of the ancient creatures that guard the homes forest, the horse ...more
Jan 16, 2017 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, netgalley, 2017
The best way I can describe this book is to say it's like an epic Russian fairytale. It's hard for me to give this book a rating and be happy with it though. On the one hand, it was awesome and it had lots of adventure and magic in it but on the other hand, I found it quite hard to read at times. This wasn't a book I could sit down and devour and that's not necessarily a bad thing but I did find that reading it was a bit of work. But at the end of the day, I enjoyed it and it was a good book.

Aug 05, 2016 Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Still not 100% sure how to expand on my feels about this book (plus I'm definitely going to wait on a longer review since it's a JANUARY 2017 release), BUT:

Uprooted + Deathless + Hild. Kind of. Hild is just in there for realllyyyyyyy well-written historical fiction. But Uprooted + Deathless YES.

Longer review in...August maybe. Hopefully more people are buzzing about this by then.
Every so often a book comes along that is so good it just blows your mind. In 2014 it was Red Rising, 2015 was Uprooted, in 2016 it was Nevernight and I know it's early to say this but for 2017 it's The Bear and the Nightingale. These are the kinds of books that I actually get anxious about writing reviews for because I know I'll never be able to do them justice. They're the books that I end up buying multiple copies of, books that I walk around bookshops surreptitiously moving them into more pr ...more
Nov 24, 2016 Jamie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
I find it fitting that I've just finished this book while it is snowing outside and I'm curled up next to a fire.
This is hands down of the best books I've read this year. The Bear and the Nightingale simply has all the right elements of what a story/retelling should be. There were times the magical realism swept me away into a dark forest with the rusalka, or let me listen in on the conversations between nymphs, a vampire, and even with death himself. An element of romance; even in the slightest
Oct 26, 2016 Emma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Review using proper words to follow.


Reading this was a truly wonderful experience. The plot was a mix of the historical and fantastic, based on traditional Russian myth and folklore, and the accompanying language was suitably magical, with surprising metaphor and beautiful imagery. This debut was both accomplished and daring, offering a fairy tale experience for an adult audience without losing any of its wonder. It was something special.

I'll keep my review to this: I went into thi
Carole (Carole's Random Life)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

I enjoyed this fairy tale of a story. I did have a difficult time really getting into the story and I am not entirely sure why. Once I became hooked on the story, I couldn't find out what would happen next fast enough. It was at times a slow moving story even though things always seemed to be happening. The descriptions in the story were incredibly vivid. This was the kind of story that will stay with me for some time.

I have seen some descrip
The Bear and the Nightingale is a fable with creatures that jump right out of the classic Russian Fairytales.

It all circles around Vasilisa. Vasilisa has the ability to communicate with the mythical, fabled creatures that her family, neighbors and town have always left tribute too but never seen.

When Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow to ask the royalty for matches for his older children when he is given a wife for himself. Her new stepmother can see the same creatures Vasilisa h
Vic James
Jul 22, 2016 Vic James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This books is a whoosh of cold snow and magic round the door of a log cabin in a dark, dark winter. It sparkles and chills. It makes your neck prickle up, and drives you closer to the fire.

Vasya, the last-born of a minor noble in medieval Rus's frozen north, is a child like no other. But her mother may not have been entirely human either. Vasya's childhood among her fractious but loving siblings is beautfully drawn. Otherworldly encounters in the woods and in the home, as Vasya befriends the sp
Carla *Jen7waters*

Going to kick this review off with a: wow, what a debut. I will certainly read whatever Katherine Arden publishes next. She completely won me over with her beautiful, spellbinding writing, intriguing storytelling and outstanding heroine; even if I don’t think this a flawless story and have a few complaints, but more on that later.

The Bear and the Nightingale is based on Slavic mythology, and it tells the story of a young girl, Vasilia, as she grows up in a small village in Russia during that tim
Jan 14, 2017 Huriyah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-favourites
I am giving away a hardback copy of this book on my blog (click here.).

Review taken from my blog, SugarQuills.
I received a copy of The Bear and the Nightingale from the publisher for an honest review.

Set in medieval Lesnaya Zemlya, a quaint little village in northern Rus’, The Bear and the Nightingale features villagers who show signs of double faith (accepting Christianity but still holding onto pagan practises and worship.) Per my extensive and credible research (Wikipedia lol), ‘double faith
This is one very ... interesting book.

To be honest, I loved this story so much when I started it that I was secretly convinced that it would be a 5 star read. It was *that* good. It almost feels like you're reading a fairytale at first. We open with something that seems seemingly ordinary but yet so wondrous and magical. Then we are drawn to the sense that something is going to go very, very wrong. I loved it.

Then Part One came to an end and my good feelings for the story started to wane.

Shauna (b00kstorebabe)
Originally published on my blog, Book Slingin' Mega Babe

The Bear and the Nightingale was sold to me as a book perfect for lovers of Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Uprooted was my absolute favorite book last year and is now my go-to answer for when someone asks me the question, "What is your favorite book?" I devoured this book in two sittings and now I'm struggling to put into words my feelings about it.

I was enchanted by the writing in this book, it is descriptive and immersive. It takes place in th
Lizzy (Bent Bookworm)
~*Full review and comments on The Bent Bookworm!*~
There was a time, not long ago
When flowers grew all year
When days were long
And nights star-strewn
And men lived free from fear

Just to clarify: The Bear and the Nightingale (TBATN) is NOT a YA book. I’ve seen it pop up on several lists as such, but it is not. It’s also NOT historical fiction, though it is heavily inspired by historical, medieval Russia. It is adult fantasy that reads almost entirely like historical fiction until Part II, where it s
What a beautiful, enchanting talisman of a book. The Bear and the Nightingale transports readers deep into the dark, biting cold of a northern Russian winter in a time when fairy tales and their denizens danced among newfound religion and its icons, forming a rich tapestry upon which illusions glimmered and glinted. Arden’s deft prose is exquisite and sensory in detail, never becoming heavy with exposition--there is not a single unnecessary word to be found. The layers in this splendid tale unfo ...more
Oct 17, 2016 Madeleine rated it liked it
**Thank you to Random House for providing me a digital ARC of this novel via Netgalley for the purpose of review**


This is a book I was invited to read, having previously been allowed the privilege to read (and love) an ARC of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, one of my favourite books that I read in 2015. And this book is pitched for lovers of Uprooted as well as Erin Morgenstern’s brilliant novel, The Night Circus. What these two novels both have in common is distinctly lyrical writing styles, ench
Jan 10, 2017 Marina rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star, wishlist
I got an ARC copy of this book from Shauna at b00kstorebabe's blog, who let me know about this book because it is a Russian-inspired novel and people know that since I"m Russian I'm always looking for books inspired by Russia. And Shauna was kind enough to lend me the ARC after she was finished.

I've rated The Bear and the Nightingale four stars, but there are quite a few things I disliked about this novel, and yet I cannot bring myself to rate it lower.

I was very excited when I hear of The Bear
Jan 03, 2016 Eli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whoa! What a story - I couldn't put it down! It's not that it's the only book I've seen set in historical medieval Russia, it's not that the conjunction with Russian fairy tales is so intriguing (even though it is). It's that from the first page the characters come alive and I care what happens to them; and the author's writing style creates amazing images that make the reading flow like a movie. And, yeah, I can't wait to see the movie. No spoilers here. Just read it when it comes out.
Duncan Wilson
Sep 18, 2015 Duncan Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really LOVED this book. I'm not au fait with Russian folklore but I loved the old spirits. there are themes of new religions vs the old traditions that make a great story. it conjures up an imaginative and quirky folk tale; Imagine Neil Gaiman does Frozen and made by Jim Henson workshop :)
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Six Wakes
  • Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge
  • Miranda and Caliban
  • An Accident of Stars
  • Untitled (Stream Raiders #1)
  • Summerlong
  • The Fifth Petal (The Lace Reader, #2)
  • Wicked Like a Wildfire (Hibiscus Daughter, #1)
  • The Princes' Bane
  • Black Rose
  • Poison's Kiss (Poison's Kiss, #1)
  • Wintersong
  • Blood Rose Rebellion (Blood Rose Rebellion, #1)
  • The Rose in the Briar
  • The Careful Undressing of Love
  • Early Riser
  • Sparks of Light (Into the Dim #2)
  • Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga, #2)

Share This Book