The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden, is set in Russia. Like the main character, Vasilisa, I wanted to curl up under a warm blanket while reading this book.
I am not usually a fan of books set in Russia, but this one drew me in and held me tight.
The story tells about Vasilisa, whose mother died giving birth to her. She, herself, is different, as was her mother. Vasilisa could talk with household spirits. Her father finds another wife who, like other stepmothers, help to advance the story. When a new priest is assigned to the village conflict arises as new beliefs go against old beliefs. Vasilisa is set in the center of this conflict.
The entire setting of this story is charming and believable. At the same time it can be eerie yet welcoming. The description of the area was so real I felt like I was a part of the story. The characters are also believable. I enjoyed the originality of the story. I do not believe I have ever read one just like this before. The main character is strong and wants to make decisions on her own, without a love interest interfering. This is made even more difficult when the two choices for her were to marry or to join a convent.
This book, and all it entails, is a book I highly recommend to everyone.
I received this book from NetGalley and Random House, Ballantine Publishing in exchange for an honest review.