Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Pages: 336
Publisher: Del Rey
Released: January 10, 2017
Received: ARC from publisher via NetGalley
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I kept hearing all sorts of things about how beautiful and lyrical this book was and that usually means I'm equally intrigued and worried about being bored. I like beautiful books. I also know that waxing poetic about how beautifully written a sentence is can also be code for "dull."

Lucky for me, this was the kind of beautiful that is also absorbing and captivating. The chapters are on the longish side and usually that's a bad thing for me, but it didn't bother me in this book. Mostly because I was so, well, absorbed.

The book starts out in one direction and then slowly winds toward the main thread of the story. It first introduces side characters and background characters and normally this would really frustrate me because I hate books that take forever to get going, but in this case it worked for me. Again, chalk it up to the absorbing writing? Probably. It was almost like little fairy tales building on one another to create a bigger fairy tale.

And, yes, this is definitely one of those fairy tale type books. The characters have the depth and nuance of fairy tale characters, which somehow manages to be both shallow and deep at the same time. Sometimes things happen in illogical ways but it works because it's a fairy tale story and sometimes you just need to go with things in these types of stories. The plot winds together slowly and sometimes disconnected, but always methodically and building inexorably toward the final showdown between good and evil.

Bottom line

Beautiful, absorbing, captivating, atmospheric. This recalls childhood stories with all of the magic a good storytelling can impart.

Recommended for readers who enjoyed: 


  1. I'm thrilled this got a 4.5 stars from you, Small. I was so leery of this book because of its hype and I'm been burned too many by the buzz machine. Thanks for the heads up about the slow burning plot. I don't mind as long as I know it will pay off in the end.

  2. I know what you mean about how lyrically written books can sometime be on the dull side. Glad that wasn't the case here! These absorbing fairy tale-esque books end up being some of my favourites so I'll have to check this out.


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