Winter weather has arrived in Northeast Ohio, and what better way to spend a winter’s day than curled up with a good book? Katherine Arden’s debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale, is a fantasy based on Russian history and folklore. The first chapter is called Frost, and Morozko, the Frost demon, appears on the second page. Winter is a an important part of the setting, which makes this a delightful way to while away January and February afternoons.
Vasilisa is born in the early days of winter in the northern woodlands of the part of the world called Rus’, in what we now know as Russia. She is a lonely, wild girl who can see and converse with the household and nature spirits traditionally worshiped by the Rus’ people. When a new priest, Father Konstantin, comes to live in Vasilisa’s village, he is determined to drive out the old gods and rule the people by fear. Vasilisa is the only one who can see the danger that will come if the old gods and their magic fade away, and she is determined to save her family and the people in the village.
Rich with magic and nature imagery, this story is both beautiful and enchanting. Vasilisa is an engaging heroine, and holds her own in her adventures among lords, princes, and immortal beings.
Other wintry fiction includes:
Crimson Snow by Edward Martin
Cloud & Ashes by Greer Gilman
Snowblind by Christopher Golden