The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (2016)

img_6512Young, wild Vasya is a daughter of magic and friend to the guardian spirits of hearth and nature, whom she, unlike most others, can see and communicate with.

Raised by her loving father, an anxious, religious zealot of a stepmother, and a firm-handed nurse, Vasya forges her own path in a society that would see her wed and yoked by a man or locked away and quieted in a convent.

When a fervent and charismatic priest is sent to their village, he is determined to purge all belief in spirits. As villagers neglect their guardian spirits, the village is left undefended from the awakening old gods of death and fear and clear-eyed Vasya alone is left to defend her home and loved ones.

Kirkus raves, “Arden has obviously immersed herself in Russian history and culture, but as a consummate storyteller, she never lets the details of place and time get in the way of a compelling and neatly structured narrative.”

Some story lines are left open-ended so I believe there will be a sequel or sequels. I look forward to being enchanted again in Arden’s immersive world.

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