Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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3 out of 5 stars to The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, the first in a fantasy and historical fiction series about Russian fairy tales.


Why This Book
I ordered this online many months ago based on the description I’d read in Goodreads. Then a friend of mine, Valerie, was planning to read it. We decided to do a buddy read together earlier this month.

Plot, Characters & Setting
A Russian girl loses her mother and her place in a family. She meets strange creatures who no one else can see. Her father remarries to provide her with a mother figure, then has more children. Something happens in the background where there is a war between religions, people and culture. It’s a battle to maintain your village and your family, but also to connect the past with the future.

Approach & Style
I read the paperback version over a two-week period. It’s 312 pages or 28 chapters long. Chapters are about 10 to 12 pages, told in third person.

It had absolutely beautiful imagery and lyrical prose. You truly feel transported to a new world full of complex characters, interesting plots and high imagination.

There is a lot of great history and views on religion, politics and royalty. You believe you are in Russia dealing with true occurrences and fantastic situations.

The language was too confusing for me, often leaving me wonder what was real and what was fantasy. I’m not normally a fantasy reader, so it might have been partially my fault.

Names on the characters change a bit too often, which made it slightly difficult for me to recall who each person was.

Final Thoughts
I had been in a reading slump and was working on the final chapters of my own book. I might have been distracted while reading this one. I wanted to love it, but I didn’t. I think it’s a strong book, and for that, I settled on a 3 rating. It is good, just not the right match for me.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.


18 thoughts on “Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

    […] It’s been 1 month since I started my Book Bucket List and I’ve knocked the second one off the list:  Katherine Arden’s The Bear & The Nightingale. You can see the review here. […]

    Liked by 1 person

    delphinethebabbler said:
    August 22, 2017 at 6:21 PM

    Uh oh, I’m so sorry you didn’t love the book. I definitely agree with you about the language though. At times, I felt myself getting a bit lost in the plot and the writing style is very prolific which only distracted me more.

    Liked by 2 people

    Oh! You just saved me from wasting money James! I was planning on buying this next week so I’m happy I read your review first. I think I’ll just borrow this from the library.💁🏻

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      August 22, 2017 at 7:45 PM

      It was a bit tough. Worth reading but not paying for in my opinion. Others really loved it tho. Might have been just me!

      Liked by 1 person

    Noriko said:
    August 22, 2017 at 7:38 PM

    Great review, Jay! Imaginary and lyrical prose might not be my thing… thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    coffeelovingbookoholic said:
    August 23, 2017 at 2:12 AM

    great review james! 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    BrizzleLass said:
    August 23, 2017 at 4:04 AM

    I really want to read this. Love your feedback, hate you’ve been in a reading slump

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      August 23, 2017 at 7:11 AM

      I hope to come out of it his week. Reading “if the creek don’t rise.” It’s ok so far.


    Aj @ Read All The Things! said:
    August 23, 2017 at 9:47 AM

    I’m sorry you didn’t like it. I have it on my TBR list because I’m interested in books set in Russia. I hope I like it more than you did.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      August 23, 2017 at 10:49 AM

      I liked Russian stories, too. It wasn’t bad, and I may have been distracted while reading that week. Some of it was highly entertaining and intricate. I think most people will like it if they like those types of stories. Let me know when you do.


    Kristin said:
    August 28, 2017 at 9:25 PM

    Hrmm, I kinda want to read this. LOVE the cover and it feels Christmasy and we all know I’m a Christmas freak 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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