I would like to thank Random House UK, Ebury Publishing for providing me with an advanced reading copy of The Bear and the Nightingale.
The Bear and the Nightingale is a bit of a mixed bag. There were parts of this book that I loved and there were parts that I found unnecessary or a bit of a slog to get through.
Near the beginning of the book when Vasya's father and brothers travel to Moscow I found that it slowed right down and I began to become a little bored. There were so many new names and characters there that it started to feel like I was losing track of them all, and because I didn't know if the characters were going to feature as a constant in the story I felt the need to try and commit them to memory. I soon discovered that after slogging through this section and trying to keep everyone right in my mind, that it was a waste of time because the majority of them are not a part of the rest of the story. Almost the whole section could have been removed from the book without it having any negative effect on the story.
Once I got past the section mentioned above I really started to enjoy the book a lot more. The descriptions of the surroundings and atmosphere were done very well. So well that I could almost feel the intense cold creeping over me as I read. I kept expecting to see snow outside my window when I looked up from the book.
I particularly enjoyed the Russian folklore and fairytales that run throughout the story. The author paints a vivid world full of magic, danger, and imagination, and the writing style was a pleasure to read. The creatures and characters really came alive and I found myself completely wrapped up in their lives and their story.
Highly recommended. I would love to see this book made into a movie.