Vasya is a wild and untamed child much to her father’s dismay; her father feels that what Vasya really needs is a new mother. However Vasya is no ordinary child simply playing games with imaginary friends, in fact Vasya has inheritied the gift of ‘sight’ from her Grandmother. Russian fairy-tales are told to naughty children but little do they know these magical creatures are actually real and with a spirited Vasya able to see them, she’s soon able to explore magic and wonder just what other powers she may have. But when a rumor spreads that the evil Bear from the woods may be awakening at long last, who will be able to save Vasya’s village from the darkness that people refuse to believe is real?
The Bear and the Nightingale takes place over a number of years, you are able to actually watch Vasya grow into a young woman and see how Arden weaves Russian folklore into the plot. I felt that the plot was maybe a little too slow however Arden has such a lyrical way of writing that you don’t find yourself bored but merely eager for what happens next. And Arden certainly does deliver when she introduces the Frost-Demon who has a magical necklace for Vasya.
The last 100 pages of the book are the best, it felt as if the book was only just beginning, the pace picks up, Vasya and her magic become the focus and you get a much clearer picture of what Arden has is stores for her readers. This book is part of a series and I have no doubt that book two will grip readers from the start.
The Bear and the Nightingale is a truly stunning read with a focus of Russian folklore and fantasy fans are in for a real treat.