The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale

Katherine Arden

A grownup fairy tale that weaves together historical family troubles with Russian folklore and magic. The pacing is a little slow to begin with, and there are lots of Russian words to stumble over, but the magic is very readable, and the atmosphere Arden creates means you can palpably feel the fear and suspicion rattling around the ancient Russian village, as well as the bitter cold of the winter that threatens to destroy everyone.


'Please, winter-king,' Dunya said humbly, clenching her hands together. 'Another year. One more sun-season; she will grow strong with rain and sunlight. I will not - I cannot - give my girl to Winter now.'
Laughter suddenly boomed from the undergrowth: old, slow laughter. Suddenly it seemed to Dunya that the moonlight shone through the frost-demon, that he was nothing but a trick of light and shadow.
But then he was a real man again, with weight and shape and form. His head was turned away, scanning the undergrowth. When he turned back to Dunya, his face was grim.
'You know her best,' he said. 'And I cannot take her unready; she will die. Another year, then. Against my judgment.'

  • Uprooted by Naomi Novak
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Books with similar mood

The Silversmith's Wife

Sophia Tobin

The People's Train

Thomas Keneally

Sorcerer to the Crown

Zen Cho

The Paris Wife

Paula McLain

Welcome to Lagos

Chibundu Onuzo


Naomi Novik

After Such Kindness

Gaynor Arnold

Bitter Leaf

Chioma Okereke

Ancestor Stones

Aminatta Forna

The Great Stink

Clare Clark

Villa America

Liza Klaussmann


Paul Adam

Senlin Ascends

Josiah Bancroft

Critical Injuries

Joan Barfoot


Molly McCloskey

To the Bright Edge of the World

Eowyn Ivey

Among Others

Jo Walton

You Came Back

Christopher Coake

Tiger Hills

Sarita Mandanna


Gwyneth Jones

The Book Thief

Markus Zusak

The Demons of Chitrakut

Ashok Banker

People of the Book

Geraldine Brooks

Lyrics Alley

Leila Aboulela

The Infatuations

Javier Marias

Girl in a Blue Dress

Gaynor Arnold

Mr Golightly's Holiday

Salley Vickers

The Bookman's Tale

Charlie Lovett

The Vine of Desire

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Memoirs of a Geisha

Arthur Golden

The Dream Life of Sukhanov

Olga Grushin

The Kites

Romain Gary

Hold Back the Stars

Katie Khan

Hunters in the Dark

Lawrence Osborne


Ian McEwan

Balthasar's Odyssey

Amin Maalouf

The Buffalo Thief

Yojana Sharma

The Keep of Fire

Mark Anthony


Julian Gough

Guarding Maggie

Ellen McCarthy

The Terranauts

TC Boyle

The Luminaries

Eleanor Catton

The Resurrectionists

Michael Collins

The Eye of Eternity

Maggie Furey

Peacocks Dancing

Sharon Maas

Measuring Time

Helon Habila

My Name is Mary Sutter

Robin Oliviera

Now We Shall Be Entirely Free

Andrew Miller

The Baghdad Clock

Shahad Al Rawi