The Bear and the Nightingale

A timely read set in the medieval Russian wilderness, a place where the warmer months are spent laboring, ekeing out an existence that only might be enough to last through the harsh winter, a place where fairy tales live, breathe, and await tribute.

Marina returns to her hearth from the frozen forest.  Warming herself by the fire, she joins her family for The King of Winter tale, one of perseverance and courage – traits needed to survive this clime.

Soon after, we learn that Marina is expecting. She is sure that this child will be born with abilities similar to her own mother – to see things that no one else can see and do seemingly impossible things. Marina knows, deep inside, that these abilities will, in the future, be of the utmost importance.

Through that child, Vasya, we learn that spirits guard the village, the stables, the surrounding forest, and the water. She can not only see these spirits, but they are her companions in a world that frowns upon her feisty, wild ways.  Soon, two new comers to the village attest that these spirits are not benevolent guardians but demons. 

Striking down the old ways, invoking fear in the villagers, banned are the rituals that kept the guardian spirits sated. Vasya, however, continues her tribute with a little milk here, some bread there. The spirits survive because of her efforts. They survive during a time when their protection is about to be of the utmost importance, for thriving in these depths of snow and ice, there is a spirit with an unspeakable power to call forth the dead to walk, again.

Has Vasya banked enough guardian good will to protect them all?  You’ll have to pick this one up to find out!

The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel

A timely winter read richly set in the atmospheric Russian wilderness during medieval times, where fairy tales live, breathe, and expect tribute – or else.