Book 6 is debut author Katherine Arden’s book the Bear and the Nightingale. This book has been raved by several different book news sites on social media and it did not disappoint. The only thing that threw me off was the names as this book is based in Russia in the 1300s. It was glorious and it was magical, and it all centered on the Frost king, death himself. He is a constant character that is referenced in the many times throughout the story, even when he isn’t in the scenes themselves.
So the book’s main character is Vasilisa, a young girl whose mother bore her because she knew that she was important. Vasilisa’s family seems to have a problem with her because she is very much a wild creature. Not that she is uncivilized but she is carefree and refuses to fit within the mold that society has created for women. It is because of her that her people are saved from “The Bear”, a creature that feeds off of fear and war.
The one thing that was really awesome was the concept of the old religions and Christianity clashing. In fact, the villain in this story uses the Christian faith as a way to feed and strengthen himself. It is interesting because if anyone knows the history of Christianity, there were a lot of horrible crimes committed in its name. I’m not saying that Christianity is to blame but that people use what is in the bible and faith as a way to control people. It has been that way in many religions around the world, doesn’t make them wrong, please don’t think that is what I am saying. But it is interesting that the villain was able to trick a man of God to basically terrorize a village of people into giving up on their old beliefs, which kept them safe from the evil in the world. Before the man of God and Vasilisa’s new stepmother came to the village, there were no problems worshiping God but practicing old traditions. They didn’t really believe these creatures they were giving “offerings” to were real, it was just something that was done because it had always been done. It really showcased how Christianity was used to systematically drive out the pagan religions and traditions around the world.
What was also interesting was that, though people feared Death, he himself was not a bad person. The way the book explained his existence was interesting. These spirits came to be the moment the thing they were a spirit of was created. For example, the spirits of the house were created when the house was built, not before. Same for Death. He came into existence when man and man’s mortality came into existence. There is no way of saying that by him being real that God isn’t. I did get a little mad when the Frost King, Death, tried to get Vasilisa to accept her power and her family interfered. Her family came from a good place but they were basically trying to enslave her to either a husband or a convent to prevent her from helping the Frost King. They didn’t even try to explain or talk to Vasilisa to see her thoughts. But then that was how it was for women at this time.
All in all, it took me two days to read this book. It was interesting from start to finish. It isn’t very often that a book gets me so involved in it’s story that I finish in two days and stay up a little late on school night to finish the book.
(sorry if my talk is a little confusing, I tried to be organized but describing this book was hard to put into words because it is just a great book)
Let's enjoy the many worlds there are to enjoy, in just our own heads.