Wednesday, the 4th of March–time again for Shelf Control! Shelf Control is a feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. It appears every Wednesday. To participate, simply pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, what makes you want to read it, where you got it, and such. Link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks!
This week, my pick is the first of a fantasy trilogy, The Bear and the Nightingale (2017) by Katherine Arden. This is pretty much the latest addition to my shelf–my copy arrived yesterday, the cover on the right, and it is very very pretty.
With its basis in Russian fairy tales, the book tells the story of Vasilisa, living at the edge of the Russian wilderness, a place where it is winter most of the year. Vasilisa spends most nights with her siblings, huddled around the fire, listening to fairytales told by their nurse. Among these stories, her favourite is that of the blue-eyed winter-demon, Frost who the wise fear, for he claims unwary souls, and as protection honor the spirits that protect their homes. But Vasilisa’s mother dies, and her father remarries, a devout and harsh woman from Moscow who forbids them from honouring the house spirits. And of course, evil begins to affect them–crops failing, evil from the forest growing nearer, and misfortune coming upon the village. Now Vasilisa must call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed, to save her family from all that her nurse’s stories warned of.
The author: Born in Austin, Texas, Katherine Arden, who now resides in Vermont spent a year in Moscow after High School. She holds a degree in Russian and French. She has written the Winternight trilogy of which The Bear and the Nightingale is the first book, as well as a couple of books for children, also part of a series, Small Spaces.
The Bear and the Nightingale is a book I was very interested in picking up essentially because of its basis in Russian fairy tales and folklore. The world it is set in sounds pretty and magical, though the winter must make the ill that occurs all the more chilling. The story sounds like one of what occurs or might occur when a more ‘modern’ world and belief system tries to oust or replace a more traditional one, something that shouldn’t be done lightly, though of course in a fantasy setting where consequences can be very different from those in the ‘real’ world.
Have you read this one? Or if not, do you plan to? How did you like it, if you have? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!