Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

This epic story that  reads like a fairytale at times is the story of a Boyar, Pyotr, his sons, Sasha and Kolya and his strange daughter Vasilia. Before his wife died, she told him that Vasilia would be most like her mother who had the "gift."




Vasilia was born with  the ability to see the creatures that populate Russian airytale creatures--the rusalka, the vazila, domonvoi, vodianoy, leshy and the Frost King, Mozorko. While its commonplace to her, others are terrified of her abilities. Much of the town, and her stepmother, call Vasilia ("Vasya") a demon or a witch. 

Ironically, Vasya's stepmother, Anna, also has the ability to see these household spirits and cheyerti of the forest. Anna, however, denigrates what she sees as "demons" or manifestations of her madness. 

Konstantine, a priest sent by Prince Ivan to the wilds of Rus, terrifies the town by labeling the old village ways "demonic." Their fears only multiply the existing dangers. An old rivalry between two supernatural forces is renewed as the terrible Bear of the fairytales is released from his bindings.