Monday, October 10, 2016

2016 book 168

Katherine Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale
Although this book isn't out for a few more months, I've started seeing a lot of buzz about it and was eager to read it. The publisher compares it to the works of Neil Gaiman and to Naomi Novik's Uprooted, but I thought it had more in common with Catherynne Valente's Deathless. Set in the far north of 14th Century Russia, the story centers on a girl with a mysterious heritage, on Russian folklore, and on the clash of Christianity and traditional beliefs. I did think the middle dragged on a bit too long--or maybe I just got tired of dreading all these terrible men and beasts plotting against and being "tempted" by a young girl (historically accurate, I guess!). I mean, the narrative tension is thick enough to cut with a knife. There are some pretty awesome horses and hearth spirits, at least! And good relatives.  Eventually things come to a head, though I did wish for a little bit more of the end. Really evocative writing and great atmosphere--I look forward to seeing what Arden does next. A-/B+.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in January.

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