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The Bear and the Nightingale

Winternight, Book 1
Narrated by: Kathleen Gati
Series: Winternight Trilogy, Book 1
Length: 11 hrs and 48 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (153 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Random House presents the unabridged downloadable audiobook edition of The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, read by Kathleen Gati.

A young woman's family is threatened by forces both real and fantastical in this debut novel inspired by Russian fairy tales.

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of Northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift - a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, the father hides the gift away, and his daughter, Vasya, grows up a wild, willful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.

Atmospheric and enchanting, with an engrossing adventure at its core, The Bear and the Nightingale is perfect for fans of Naomi Novik's Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus and Neil Gaiman.

©2017 Katherine Arden (P)2017 Random House AudioBooks

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Princes Ransom

Really cool story. A Russian Fairy Tale that unravels itself into a traditional Russian family.
It's captivating, but at the end I thought it took on a modern battle which...may have degraded the delacacy of this story. I felt as the reader I was always trying to understand my characters better but they always seemed to be in the dark mist and faraway. Probably because of the mystery behind the whole story.
Pretty cool though. It'd be a freaky movie. but loved the book. Full if Mystery and intrigue.
I would read it again.
-Z

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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So good! Would recommend to anyone!

This trilogy is so wonderful, I'd recommend it to almost anyone. Kept some mystery, there's adventure, fighting, the supernatural, romance and friendship. I honestly cant even explain how much I loved the series.

I also really loved that the narrator did the accents and different voices, it really brought the story to life. My only complaint is that she spoke so slowly that I had to keep it at 1.75x or 2.0x to keep up with the pace of the book. So really, think of it at like a 6-8hr read

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  • Leshart
  • Redbank Plains, QLD
  • 30-07-2019

Wonderful

I love audiobooks because when narrator and book mesh well it's entrancing to a point a book alone would not match.

This was wonderful. I didn't know much about the book. I read one or two lines in the blurb and garnered I'd like it from expereince.

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Stories to remember

Draws you in like a warm fireplace from the cold wind outside. Compelling story with lots of stories within, want to start again. Thanks Katherine the author and Kathleen the narrator, great job

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Wonderful story

This story was poetic and magical. It was also well read, the accent enjoyable once my ears became accustomed to it.

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Strong female character, fairy-tale feel

For me the story really got interesting around chapter 20. Loved how beautiful the horse characters are in this story & skilful imagery by the writer. Am definitely going to listen to the next book. Narrator does a fantastic job of pronouncing the difficult Russian names in this story!

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A magical Russian world

This was fantastic!
I loved the world, it was so incredibly rich, and the narrator did an outstanding job of emoting this richness. When listening to this story, you could feel the cold, feel the wind rattle your bones and the sting of wet on warm skin.
Highly, highly recommend, it was excellent!!

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  • Yasnah
  • 07-10-2019

A fantastical tale

This, I think, is my first full review despite having listened to and loved a number of stories here in audible. I am doing this mostly because that publisher's summary above is not quite right and it annoyed me a bit.

Vasya was already a wild, willful young girl when the blue-eyed stranger gave her father the necklace. Pyotr did not hide it from her - he gave it to Dunya, their housekeeper and the children's carer, for her to give to Vasya. Both Dunya and Pyotr knew that it was no ordinary trinket, and that the stranger was no ordinary man, and were afraid. It was Dunya who kept the necklace from Vasya, sorrowfully giving it to her when the time was right.

It's not a big deal and does not affect the main story at all, but I just wanted to correct that for some reason.

That being said and out of the way, The Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderful tale. It feels (to me at least) like a newly-discovered Russian folk tale, with bits of various old Russian and Slavic mythologies masterfully weaved through. It starts off slow however, and even a little boring. It took me more than three attempts before I managed to get past the first couple of chapters.

It starts from the very beginning - before Vasya was born - as typical fairy stories do. This gave me an opportunity to get know the characters. I grew to like them and understood why they made their decisions later on in the story. Vasya is a strong female lead, and I rooted for her until the very end. I especially loved the interactions with the traditional fairy-tale creatures.

This story touches on the uneasy mix of the old gods and new - of tradition and religion, paganism and Christianity. It reminded me that some of today's Christian religions' beliefs actually have pagan roots. Also, with Vasya being such a headstrong female character, this story has bits of gender role challenges inevitably thrown in.

The narration is soft, slow and melodic. This is the main reason it took me a long time to finish this audiobook. I felt like she was reading to get me to sleep. I learned to tolerate this and even liked her Russian accents. But towards the end, when things are getting exciting, her pace remained slow and her voice lulling. I would have liked to hear a bit of passion.

Overall, I felt like the story is genuine, despite all the fantastical elements in it. Like it could really have happened, once upon a time. If you like Naomi Novik and Neil Gaiman, you might like this one too.

Edit:
The story could have ended here and I would have been happy. But it does not, so off I go to book 2.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 12-03-2019

The Bear and the Nightingale

The Narrator truly brought this story to life. It was a very enjoyable book to listen to.

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  • Bel
  • 24-01-2019

Starke Frau

Inhalt:
Vasya ist das jüngste Kind Marinas und Pjotrs, die am Rande des Waldes leben. Marina weiß, dass ihre Tochter sie das Leben kosten wird, ihr ist es aber sehr wichtig, diese Tochter gesund auf die Welt zu bringen.

Vasya und ihre Brüder wachsen auf, betreut von Dunja, der alten Kinderfrau der Mutter.

Dunja erzählt den Kindern alle möglichen Märchen, und Vasya lernt, dass mehr an diesen Märchen dran ist, als gemeinhin geglaubt wird.

Vasya wächst ziemlich wild auf, aber als ihr Vater erneut heiratet, brechen schwere Zeiten für sie an. Ihre Stiefmutter ist nur wenig älter als Vasya, und wäre lieber in ein Kloster gegangen, als zu heiraten, wird aber ein Opfer der Politik des Machthabenden in Moskau.

Anna ist sehr gläubig und fanatisch. Als ein gleichermaßen fanatischer Priester ins Dorf geschickt wird um die Leute zum Christentum zu bekehren, gerät nicht nur Vasya in Gefahr.


Meine Meinung:
Das Buch wurde empfohlen für Fans von unter anderem Naomi Novik's Uprooted -- ein Buch, an dem sich die Geister scheiden, das ich aber geliebt habe.


Ich wurde nicht enttäuscht. Im Buch geht es nicht nur um den ewigen Krieg des neuen (Gott)Glaubens gegen die alten Naturgötter und Fabelwesen, sondern es geht auch um das Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Frauen, und die typische Reaktion der Männer, die Vasya als Hexe abstempeln und verdammen, und mit Gewalt versuchen, sie unter Kontrolle zu bekommen.


Vasya lässt sich aber nicht unterkriegen. Glücklicherweise hat sie die Unterstützung ihres jüngsten Bruders, und ihrer Halbschwester.


Der ewige Kampf zwischen Gut und Böse, zwischen Glaube und Aberglaube, zwischen Liebe und Hass, zwischen Gier und Großzügigkeit, zwischen Mann und Frau ist hier wunderbar beschrieben.

Außerdem geht es um den Überlebenskampf in den berühmt-brüchtigten russischen Wintern, und natürlich treffen wir auf eine Form von 'Väterchen Frost'. Überhaupt trifft man auf so ziemlich alle Märchen- und Sagengestalten der slawischen Kultur -- manche alt bekannt, andere (mir) neu.


Die Geschichte selbst ist sehr langsam aufgebaut, so dass man jeden Schritt genau verfolgt. Möglicherweise hätte man hier und da etwas raffen können, aber ich fand die fast 12 Stunden Hörbuch sehr unterhaltsam.

Die Sprecherin, Kathleen Gati, erzählt das Ganze mit einem russischen Akzent. Anfangs dachte ich, es wäre eventuell ihr Akzent, aber dem ist nicht so.

Warum sie sich dieses Akzents befleißigt hat, kann ich nur vermuten: möglicherweise dachte sie, es klinge authentischer.


Mich hat es anfangs sehr irritiert, und es machte es schwerer, alles zu verstehen, da viele Wörter merkwürdig ausgesprochen wurden.
Insgesamt ist es aber ein schönes Buch.


0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • S
  • 19-03-2017

Shades of good and bored

This book has some hints of Neil Gaiman's dark fantastical plots and characters, which is what initially drew me to listening to it. I loved the Russian lore and landscape which when coupled with a strong female protagonist are the dynamic force of this story. I also found it interesting how on a backdrop of seemingly childish (but actually quite dark) stories about demons and wood sprites many questions of the human condition rose to the surface. Religion, female emancipation, misidentification and most importantly fear. This is powerful and clever. I loved being introduced to the creatures of Russian mythology and their presence and influence is what reminds me of Gaimen's style. Sadly there is something missing and it took me a while to get into this book. The first part, although setting the story, I found really boring and stopped to listen to another audiobook. I came back and was pleased I did for the middle part of the book. The narrator although good might have contributed to the boredom with her tone. She captured the characters really well and her Russian names were faultless but there was something in her narration which when coupled with a story that feels like it's going nowhere in the beginning made me loose interest. Get past part one of this book and it gets a lot better and much for engaging and fun. If the book started from part two I would give it 4 stars.

27 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • MissyVBizzy
  • 31-12-2018

A Perfect Winter’s Tale

This is a truly wonderful magical story set in the Russian Forrest. I was absorbed and enthralled. Beautiful writing with really strong characters. Arden is a true master of storytelling. In Vasilisa Petrovka she creates a real heroine fighting on all fronts, not only does she have to fight against supernatural forces she has to fight convention and the strictures enforced on women of her era, she has the powers of the old world, yes she’s a witch with witch’s powers but she’s also a witch fighting for her place in the world. A young woman, gathering wisdom and courage Vasilisa is a memorable heroine I have completely falleyin love with. I’m about to start the second book in the trilogy and I cannot wait to see how Vasilisa naviagates the world.

The only detractor for me is Kate Gati’s narration. It took quite a while to get used to as she has a light voice and as a European it’s a big odd to listen to an American reading an East European narrative and her faux Russian accent, but I did get used to it and I really enjoyed the book, but yes as someone of Polish origin, I found it a bit weird, I grew up on these sorts of stories, so yes I do feel a bit of sadness about cultural appropriation and there’s an absence of the real Russian humour, (yes Russians do have a good and unique sense of humour), but having read the authors opening words, I know that she’s aware that she’s a non-Russian writing about old Russia, and she pays respect to that, and she’s obviously a Russian scholar, her writing is wonderful all the same and she did transport me to the old world so much so I was on Wikipedia searching flights to my family’s part of the world and yearning for the deep winter.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Susu Bird
  • 15-01-2018

Fairytale feminism

Perhaps better suited to a younger audience, I enjoyed sinking into a world of Russian fairytale with a feminist twist and wished it for my teenage self, who might have learned from views on marriage as well as what makes things sacred verses false worship.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • S. Malvik
  • 19-01-2018

Why oh why the funny accents?

I really enjoyed the story, but I did not enjoy the narrator. I could get used to her regular narration though it’s distracting, but why - when everyone are Russian and the story takes place in Russia, give them all funny accents unless it was to signify they speak Russian poorly? Sorry. I’d rather read this book on paper.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Bethany Kelly
  • 23-02-2017

Capitivating

I loved everything about this book, just the thing for winter listening. The bleakness of life in the Russian wilds woven marvellously with folk magic.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Rkian
  • 25-01-2017

Not my cup of tea

The narrator was good, I just couldn't get over the weird way she pronounced some words. "Shone" said like "lone" or "cone" instead of like "gone". And that word was used a lot in this book. It's the kind of book that uses romantic language and similes, people were forever pouncing like a cat or proudly lifting their chin or being challenging like a stallion etc. And I just don't like that kind of thing unless there's a good undercurrent of normalcy and humour to offset it.

I really liked uprooted, by naomi novik, which everyone thinks is similar to this. And it kind of is but I enjoyed and found it much easier to submerge myself in uprooted. I think because the main character felt much more real and the friendship between her and her best friend was awesome. There isn't a relationship like that in this book. The next best fleshed out character is probably the creepy monk or priest obsessed with the main char.

Anyway, it's a lot more like the bird and the sword. If you liked that you'll probably like this one.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Ms. Caroline-jayne Panico
  • 27-12-2018

Returned to Audible

Sadly I couldn’t proceed with this book as the narrator just irked me with such force within a couple of minutes. I’m sure many others won’t have this problem and I do not wish to be personally rude towards the narrator. Sadly I cannot rate the actual book in light of this fact.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • IoBB
  • 18-04-2018

Narrator is unintelligible at times.

I cannot understand what the narrator is saying at times, it's as though she's trying to give voices a speech impediment. Will have to read the book instead. Shame as I prefer audible for my commutes. Update 6 months later... tried again, persevering with narrator. The story is enjoyable and helps to offset the poor narrator. I loved the idea of all the little spirits protecting the house, stables, etc.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Little White Elephant
  • 12-01-2018

great story - glad it's a trilogy

really enjoyed this, have powered through it over the last few days! glad the second part of the trilogy is out in a few weeks!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Suswati
  • 29-10-2017

A dark epic fairytale

This captivating fantasy is set in the frozen north of Russia in the 13th century, and used Russian myths and fairy tales as inspiration. 

At the centre of the novel is the family of a local Lord, in particular the headstrong youngest daughter Vasya who is gifted with 'second sight'. The existence of the community is threatened when a dark power in the forests begins to wake up, just as the villagers start to turn away from the household spirits who've protected them, in favour of a charismatic new priest.

The Russian setting adds interest and mystique and the protagonist Vasya is fantastically outspoken and scrappy. The plot is easy to follow despite the odd Russian word. It truly is a compelling read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful