The Bear and the Nightingale Mesmerizes Readers with Magical Winter Story


The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden was published in January 2017 and is the first book in the Winternight trilogy.

Brenna Renfroe, Staff Writer

“In Russian, Frost was called Morozko, the demon of winter. But long ago, the people called him Karachun, the death-god. Under that name, he was king of black midwinter who came for bad children and froze them in the night.”

The Bear and the Nightingale is a beautiful story set in medieval Russia. It tells the tale of a strong young witch named Vasilisa Petrovna, or Vasya. Vasya discovers that she can interact with the spirits of Russian folklore, the chyerti. These chyerti vary from the elusive Lady of Midnight to the Domovoi, the guardian of the household.

Vasya develops a relationship with one of these spirits, the beautiful Winter King named Morozko. He is known for being cold hearted, but something about Vasya and her fighting spirit captures his attention.

Morozko has a twin brother named Medved, or the Bear. He is lord over summer. Medved is malicious and manipulative. He proposes a serious threat to Vasya and her people. Vasya, Morozko, and Solovey, Vasya’s beloved horse, embark on a dangerous journey to defeat the Bear.

I absolutely adored this story. It is worth reading alone for its lyrical writing and unique story. This is a tale of deep winter, and I recommend reading this in the winter snuggled up with a blanket. The author weaves such an enchanting story that one can almost feel the cold winter wind and see the snow-covered forests of northern Russia.

This book is highly praised by readers because of how beautifully it is written. “To me, the setting was a real character in the book. I could feel the snow and ice creeping into my bones as well as the warmth of those massive ovens radiating comfort. I also found the Russian mythology fascinating and unique. This book is so [exquisitely] written that I often paused to reread a phrase or speak the words out loud,” said Mrs. Renfroe, the PHS librarian.

The Bear and the Nightingale isn’t necessarily a fast-paced book. It gradually builds to the climax. The romance is definitely there, but it slowly grows over the course of the trilogy. However, I really enjoy the slow pace of things. It allows the reader to savor the beauty of the book.

Vasya is an independent heroine that is confident in her abilities. She is a great role model who can stand on her own and defeat the evil that plagues those she loves.

This book is also a great place to learn about medieval Russian folklore and history. The author Katherine Arden spent a lot of time in Moscow researching her book.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden was written in January 2017. It is the first book in the Winternight Trilogy. The other two books, The Girl in the Tower and The Winter of the Witch, are already out as well. I highly recommend reading this series. Readers are in for one enchanting adventure with these wonderful characters and settings. This trilogy is available for checkout in the Pelahatchie High School library.