Inspection by Josh Malerman

Inspection: A Novel by [Malerman, Josh]

3 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Ray

Date of publication: March 19th, 2019

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Where you can find Inspection: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookBub

Synopsis:

J is a student at a school deep in a forest far away from the rest of the world.

J is one of only twenty-six students, all of whom think of the school’s enigmatic founder as their father. J’s peers are the only family he has ever had. The students are being trained to be prodigies of art, science, and athletics, and their life at the school is all they know—and all they are allowed to know.

But J suspects that there is something out there, beyond the pines, that the founder does not want him to see, and he’s beginning to ask questions. What is the real purpose of this place? Why can the students never leave? And what secrets is their father hiding from them?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the forest, in a school very much like J’s, a girl named K is asking the same questions. J has never seen a girl, and K has never seen a boy. As K and J work to investigate the secrets of their two strange schools, they come to discover something even more mysterious: each other.


My review:

I was super excited to read Inspection. I had read the blurb and thought to myself “This seems like it is going to be a good book.” Then I started reading it. All I can say is that the book was a huge disappointment.

The plot of Inspection was interesting at first. I thought that the whole premise of the book was interesting. Then it became stale. It faltered about halfway through the book, when K’s storyline was introduced. K’s storyline was the same as J’s. The only difference was the timeline. K’s storyline started off earlier than J’s. Which meant she knew things before J. It was meh to me. Not bad, not good. Just meh.

I did like the kids. J’s confusion over what he read in the book was realistic. As was his anger and disappointment when he realized that D.A.D. wasn’t who he thought he was. K’s determination to find the other tower was great to read also. What she did once she was there set the stage for the rest of the book. The other kids (the rest of the Alphabet Boys and Letter Girls) were well written also.

D.A.D. was an egotistical maniac. His mood swings dominated J’s storyline. The deeper into the book I got, the more the experiment unravel, the more unhinged he became. I didn’t like it. It didn’t sit well with. As for M.O.M., I wasn’t impressed with her either. The main reason was her before scenes. When she met D.A.D. and hatched the plan for the school. She was condescending and it drove me nuts. The other adults made me angry. They saw what was going on. They knew what being sent to the Corner meant. And they still did nothing. Oh, they were sad. There were several passages where people looked at the kids with sadness in their eyes. But they didn’t act. Drove me nuts reading that.

I didn’t get the need for the inspections at first. I couldn’t understand why the boys and girls had to be inspected every morning. But, as the book went on, I started to understand. I won’t say why because it would be a major spoiler.

I thought that the way kept the kids in line was awful. They told the kids that the outside world had diseases. Made up diseases. Diseases that sounded like Harry Potter spells. They also threatened to put them in the Corner. The kids were terrified of the Corner. Why? Because the 2 boys and 1 girl put in the Corner never came back. And they were reminded of that daily.

The end of Inspection underwhelmed me. What ended up happening, I expected. I was interested in the letter that was at the very end of the book. But other than that, I was meh about it. There were certain things that were left up in the air. Things that should have been explained.


I would give Inspection an Older Teen rating. There is no sex. There is swearing. There is language. I would suggest that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I am on the fence if I would reread Inspection. I am also on the fence if I would recommend this book to family and friends.


I would like to thank the author, the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Inspection.

All opinions stated in this review of Inspection are mine.


Have you read Inspection?

What were your thoughts on it?

Social experiments? What are your thoughts?

Let me know!!

Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy: Book 3) by Katherine Arden

The Winter of the Witch: A Novel (Winternight Trilogy Book 3) by [Arden, Katherine]

4.5 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Ray

Date of publication: January 8th, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Series: Winternight Trilogy

The Bear and the Nightingale—Book 1 (review here)

The Girl in the Tower—Book 2 (review here)

The Winter of the Witch—Book 3

Where you can find The Winter of the Witch: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Bookbub

Synopsis:

Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.


My review:

I had a mix of emotion when I started reading The Winter of the Witch. I was happy because this book was out. I was apprehensive because of the blurb. I was sad because the trilogy was ending. My feelings were validated for The Winter of the Witch. I never get emotional reading a book. But I did for this one.

Vasya was one of my favorite people in The Winter of the Witch. Even when pushed to her limits, she was one of the strongest people in the book. What she endured in this book would have killed lesser people. Instead, it made her a stronger person. It fueled her desire to bind Bear. I was worried about what was going to happen to her after Bear was bound. I was worried that the story was going to flounder.

Morozko is one of my favorite characters to date. He stole every single scene that he was in. The fight scene with Bear, his twin, was one of the best supernatural fight scenes that I have read to date. His scenes with Vasya after that were touching. I mean, he did follow her to summer. If that doesn’t tell anyone how he felt, that I don’t know what would. My only complaint is that he refused to get involved in the war. But I understood why.

Vasya’s rise to power in this book was amazing to read. I knew that something was going to happen when she was thrust into Midnight. I was thrown for a surprise when it was revealed who her grandmother was. I remember shaking my head and saying “Well, that explains a lot”. I liked how Vasya was able to keep her promise to the chyerti. There were points in the book, after her journey to Midnight, where I thought that she was failed. I have never been more happy to be proved wrong!!

There were several deaths in The Winter of the Witch. The death of Solovey, at the beginning of the book, broke my heart. Vasya never recovered from it. There was one death where I cheered. The other notable death was at the end of the book. I was crushed at that person’s death. Freaking crushed. I did cry. No shame here in admitting that.

The end of The Winter of the Witch was an emotional read for me. I am not going to give away spoilers but I was thrilled with how it ended. I was also thrilled with the other thing that happened. That came out of left field for me. I was happy. I might have done a fist pump and say “Yes!!“.

I want to add that the Author’s Note was a welcome surprise. I liked that the author used an actual battle as the backdrop of the one that took place at the end of the book. The Grand Prince and Sasha were actual people. She admitted to tweaking parts of the battle (which I expected). She pointed out something interesting about Russia that ended with the Revolution. Made me go “Hmmmm“. As was her fitting reference about the guardians of Russia.

What I loved was that she included a glossary. She also included a note on Russian names. Both were helpful!!


I would give The Winter of the Witch an Older Teen rating. There are mentions of sex (not graphic). There is no language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread The Winter of the Witch. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.


I would like to thank the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Winter of the Witch.

All opinions stated in this review of The Winter of the Witch are mine.

Sisters of the Fire (Blood and Gold: Book 2) by Kim Wilkins

Sisters of the Fire (Blood and Gold, #2)

4 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Ray

Date of publication: February 5th, 2019

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Blood and Gold

The Crown of Rowan—Book 0.5

Daughters of the Storm—Book 1 (review here)

Sisters of the Fire—Book 2

Queens of the Sea—-Book 3 (expected publication date: 2019)

Where you can find Sisters of the Fire: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Goodreads synopsis:

An action-packed, compelling historical fantasy, from the pen of an award-winning author

The battle-scarred warrior princess Bluebell, heir to her father’s throne, is rumoured to be unkillable. So when she learns of a sword wrought specifically to slay her by the fearsome raven king, Hakon, she sets out on a journey to find it before it finds her. The sword is rumoured to be in the possession of one of her four younger sisters. But which one? Scattered as they are across the kingdoms, she sets out on a journey to find them.

Her four sisters all have their own paths to tread, the gifted magician Ash is on a journey to find a dragon that could determine her destiny. The beautiful, unhappy Rose has left her undermagician Aunt and is speeding to the aid of her daughter, Rowan, who has been lost to her. Ivy, sold into marriage for the sake of an alliance, is now set to become the ruling Duchess of Seacaster with the imminent death of her older and sick husband, and the power-hungry Willow is raising her infant child as a potential trimartyr king and training to be a warrior for the fanatical religious order Maava.

From wild rocky coastline to granite-topped tors, from bustling harbours to echoing ghost towns, from halls of kings to ancient primal woodlands, this story follows five sisters upon whose actions kingdoms will rise and fall.


My review:

Sisters of the Fire takes place 4 years after the ending of Daughters of the Storm. Each of the princesses has gone to different lives. Bluebell hasn’t changed much from the last book. She is charged with protecting the kingdom and she takes that seriously. After a battle that ends with a randerman raider held captive, Bluebell learns something interesting. She learns that one of her sisters has possession of a sword that can kill her. But which one hates her that much that they want her dead? Is it Rose? Who’s actions caused her to be separated from her daughter Rowan and live in isolation with her undermagician aunt. Or is it Ash? Ash has kept herself isolated from her sisters. She fears that the prophecy she saw in a vision will not only kill her but her sisters. Plus, she has a dragon to kill and a vision that she is determined not to come true. How about Ivy? Ivy who was the reason Rose was sent away from her daughter. Ivy, who’s scheming will end up costing her more than she thought it would. And then Willow. Meek, mousey Willow whose outer appearance doesn’t hint at the fanatic inside. Willow, who is willing to do anything to bring Maava to her father’s kingdom. Which sister will betray her?

I enjoyed reading Sisters of the Fire but it did take me a while to get into the book. The book got off to a slow start. The author had to give the background on 6 separate storylines before the book could get off the ground. She had to explain what happened to the sisters and Rowan in those 4 years. I would say that the first 30% of the book crept by for me. But, when Bluebell met with Rose, then I saw the book pick up steam. After that, the book flew. I couldn’t put it down.

If I had to have a sister that I disliked the most, it would have to be Willow. I knew that her mind wasn’t well during the first book. I mean, she heard flipping angels for crying out loud. What she morphed into in this book frightened me. She was what I call an uber fantastic. I felt so bad for her child. Look at what she put the poor thing through. She cut off eyelashes, gave the kid a bath and used a wire brush and refused to let the kid act like a child. But, what shocked me the most, was what Willow did. Even though she was bat poop crazy, I wasn’t expecting her to do what she did. I was saddened and surprised by it.

If I had to have a favorite character, it would have to be Rowan. For a small child, she was very wise. She saw what people were like. She also suffered from Rose not being there. Snowy was a good father figure but it wasn’t enough. She needed her mother. I thought her hearing the singing tree was interesting. Even more interesting was her connection to the First Folk. I wish more time had been spent explaining her time with the First Folk.

I can’t even get into all the storylines. If I did, this review would be way too long. Let me say that I thought they were amazing. I also thought that the author did a fantastic job at merging all them.

There was even a bit of romance in the book. I wasn’t expecting who the characters were (took me by surprise) but I thought it was sweet. I can’t wait to see if that romance will survive the next book.

The end of the book was good. I liked how the author took each sister and left their storyline open. The epilogue fascinated me. It left more questions than anything.


I gave Sisters of the Fire a 4-star rating. This was a good read. It did get off to a slow start but once the book got rolling, it took off. It was well written. I liked (or hated) the characters. The plotlines were intriguing. I did wish that there was more of an explanation of Rowan’s time with the First People. Other than that, I enjoyed the book.

I would give Sisters of the Fire an Adult rating. There is sex (not graphic). There is graphic violence. There is language. There are triggers. They would be the talk of child abuse. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Sisters of the Fire. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.


I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine, Del Ray, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Sisters of Fire.

All opinions stated in this review of Sisters of Fire are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**


Have you read Sisters of Fire?

Love it? 

Hate it?

Meh about it?

Let me know!!!

Bright Ruin (Dark Gifts: Book 3) by Vic James

Bright Ruin (Dark Gifts #3)

4 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine, Del Ray

Date of publication: October 9th, 2018

Genre: young adult, science fiction, dystopia

Series: Dark Gifts

Gilded Cage – Book 1 (review here)

Tarnished City – Book 2 (review here)

Bright Ruin – Book 3

Where you can find Bright Ruin: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Goodreads synopsis:

Magically gifted aristocrats rule–and commoners are doomed to serve. But a rebellion threatens the old order. The dystopian trilogy that began with Gilded Cage and Tarnished City concludes.

In a world where the lower classes must endure ten years of forced service to unfairly advantaged, magically powered rulers, a teenage boy dreams of rebellion, his older sister yearns for love and knowledge, and a dangerous young aristocrat seeks to remake the world with his dark gifts. In Bright Ruin, the final book in the trilogy set in modern-day England, our heroes will lead a revolution that will transform–or destroy–the world.


My review:

This book. Has left me. Wordless. Talk about having everything turned upside down and inside out. I can’t even get my thoughts together to write a review that makes sense…lol. But I will try.

I was excited to read Bright Ruin. I had loved the previous two books in the Dark Gifts trilogy and I was expecting to feel the same about Bright Ruin. Which I did. But this book also left me with a what the heck feeling. Why? Because of the ending. But I will get to that later in the review.

Out of all the characters in the book, I thought Gavar shined in this book. His character development from Gilded Cage was amazing. He went from being a pawn of his father to someone who decided to shake off the yoke of oppression that he lived under. I did have my doubts about him while reading Bright Ruin. I had doubts about his allegiances. But, I came to realize that the only one he was loyal too was Libby and through association, Daisy. That everything he did in Bright Ruin was to safeguard them. Of course, he was doing it under duress but still.

Speaking about Gavar brings me to Silyen. I didn’t know what to make of him for most of the book. The author did a great job at keeping his true intentions under wraps until the end of the book. Even when Luke and he met the King, I still had doubts about his true intentions. I should have known after the King’s death scene that Silyen had something up his sleeve. I also should have known when he made that deal with DogA life and an escape“. Grrrr. I also should have known his true intentions towards Luke. Thinking back, there were enough hints, I didn’t add them up. I will say that the kiss was electric and I am glad it was left at that.

I didn’t like Abi as much as I did in the first two books. I don’t know why I didn’t. I do think that she saw something in Gavar that surprised her. She saw goodness and the potential to help instead of harm. Which is why she trusted him with the plans to help break her parents out of where they were being held. Which is why she didn’t blame him for what happened when she found out the truth. I did like the change in her from the first book. She went from someone who accepted what life was thrusting at her to someone who dared to change things. That change was electric. A big part of that change was Jenner’s betrayal at the Blood Festival. But the other half of that change happened when things went sideways when her parents were rescued. Those events shaped her into who she became at the end of the book.

I thought Luke was useless in this book. Until Silyen took him to Crovan’s island. Then I realized, hey he is useful. I thought his relationship with Silyen was one of master and slave. But, as I read Luke’s part of the book, I realized that Luke was providing Silyen with something. I didn’t know what. Like I mentioned above, I was shocked at the kiss between them. But, I was also shocked by what Luke did at Silyen’s request. That took more bravery than anyone in the entire book. But, like I said above, I should have known it was coming. That whole death scene with the King was a huge indicator of what was going to happen. I failed to see it.

I want to mention how much I liked Dog in this book. I loved that the author gave him a voice and a purpose in this book. I also liked that his humanity was showing more and more. It counteracted nicely with what I knew about him.

It was the last chapter that bothered me. Luke’s storyline was not resolved. As was Coira’s, the King’s and Silyen’s. To end the book the way it did make me go “WHHHHHYYYYYY????” I can only hope that the author is going to do some sort of sequel to Bright Ruin. Something that explained what happened.

What I liked about Bright Ruin:

A) Gavar.

B) The kiss between Luke and Silyen

C) Dog

What I disliked about Bright Ruin:

A) What Silyen asked Luke to do

B) The end of the book

C) Abi. Just didn’t like her

I gave Bright Ruin a 4-star rating. This is a fantastic dystopian book. The characters were well fleshed out and the world building was amazing. I did have an issue with the ending. Other than that, loved the book.

I would give Bright Ruin an Older Teen rating. There is no sex (other than that amazing kiss between Silyen and Luke). There is violence. There is mild language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread Bright Ruin. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.

I would like to thank Random House Publishing Book-Ballantine, Del Ray, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Bright Ruin.

All opinions stated in this review of Bright Ruin are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

The Memory of Fire (The Waking Land: Book 2) by Callie Bates

The Memory of Fire: The Waking Land Book II (The Waking Land Series) by [Bates, Callie]

4 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey

Date of publication: June 5th. 2018

Genre: Fantasy

Trigger Warning: Child Abuse

Series: The Waking Land

The Waking Land – Book 1 (review here)

The Memory of Fire – Book 2

Where you can find The Memory of Fire: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

With The Memory of Fire, Bates expertly deepens her tale, spinning glittering threads of magic and intrigue into a vibrant tapestry of adventure, betrayal, and romance.
 
Thanks to the magic of Elanna Valtai and the Paladisan noble Jahan Korakides, the lands once controlled by the empire of Paladis have won their independence. But as Elanna exhausts her powers restoring the ravaged land, news that the emperor is readying an invasion spurs Jahan on a desperate mission to establish peace.

Going back to Paladis proves to be anything but peaceful. As magic is a crime in the empire, punishable by death, Jahan must hide his abilities. Nonetheless, the grand inquisitor’s hunters suspect him of sorcery and mysterious, urgent messages from the witch who secretly trained Jahan only increase his danger of being exposed. Worst of all, the crown prince has turned his back on Jahan, robbing him of the royal protection he once enjoyed.

As word of Jahan’s return spreads, long-sheathed knives, sharp and deadly, are drawn again. And when Elanna, stripped of her magic, is brought to the capital in chains, Jahan must face down the traumas of his past to defeat the shadowy enemies threatening his true love’s life, and the future of the revolution itself.

Continue reading “The Memory of Fire (The Waking Land: Book 2) by Callie Bates”

Daughters of the Storm (Blood and Gold: Book 1) by Kim Wilkins

4 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Ray

Date of publication: March 6th, 2018

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Series: Blood and Gold

The Crown of Rowan – Book 0.5

Daughters of the Storm – Book 1

Sisters of the Fire – Book 2

Where you can find Daughters of the Storm: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Five very different sisters team up against their stepbrother to save their kingdom in this Norse-flavored fantasy epic–the start of a new series in the tradition of Naomi Novik, Peter V. Brett, and Robin Hobb.

FIVE ROYAL SISTERS. ONE CROWN.

They are the daughters of a king. Though they share the same royal blood, they could not be more different. Bluebell is a proud warrior, stronger than any man and with an ironclad heart to match. Rose’s heart is all too passionate: She is the queen of a neighboring kingdom, who is risking everything for a forbidden love. The twins: vain Ivy, who lives for admiration, and zealous Willow, who lives for the gods. And Ash, who is discovering a dangerous talent for magic that might be a gift–or a curse.

But when their father is stricken by a mysterious ailment, they must come together on a desperate journey to save him and prevent their treacherous stepbrother from seizing the throne. Their mission: find the powerful witch who can cure the king. But to succeed on their quest, they must overcome their differences and hope that the secrets they hide from one another and the world are never brought to light. Because if this royal family breaks, it could destroy the kingdom.

Trigger Warning: None

Continue reading “Daughters of the Storm (Blood and Gold: Book 1) by Kim Wilkins”

Tarnished City (Dark Gifts: Book 2) by Vic James

Tarnished City (Dark Gifts, #2)

4 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, Del Ray

Date of publication: February 6th, 2018

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Number of pages: 416

Series: Dark Gifts

Gilded Cage – Book 1 (review here)

Tarnished City – Book 2

Bright Ruin – Book 3 (no expected publication date)

Where you can find Tarnished City: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

A corrupted city. A dark dream of power.

Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his mind. But as the Jardines tighten their grip on a turbulent Britain, brother and sister face a fight greater than their own.

New alliances and old feuds will remake the nation, leaving Abi and Luke questioning everything – and everyone – they know. And as Silyen Jardine hungers for the forgotten Skill of the legendary Wonder King, the country’s darkest hour approaches. Freedom and knowledge both come at a cost. So who will pay the price? 

Trigger Warning: reference to rape

Continue reading “Tarnished City (Dark Gifts: Book 2) by Vic James”

The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy: Book 2) by Katherine Arden

The Girl in the Tower (The Bear and the Nightingale #2)

5 Stars 

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey

Date of publication: December 5th, 2017

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Number of pages: 384

POV: 3rd person

Series: The Winternight Trilogy

The Bear and The Nightingale – Book 1 (review here)

The Girl in the Tower – Book 2

Where you can find The Girl in the Tower: Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

The magical adventure began in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to live in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

Trigger Warning: None

Continue reading “The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy: Book 2) by Katherine Arden”

The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel (Winternight Trilogy Book 1) by [Arden, Katherine]

5 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group- Ballantine, Del Ray

Date of publication: January 10th, 2017

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Winternight Trilogy

The Bear and the Nightingale—Book 1

The Girl in the Tower—Book 2

The Winter of the Witch—Book 3

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Book synopsis:

Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, Vasya loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. Wise Russians fear him, for he claims unwary souls, and they honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil.

Then Vasya’s widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow. Fiercely devout, Vasya’s stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. And indeed, misfortune begins to stalk the village.

But Vasya’s stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for marriage or a convent. As the village’s defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has long concealed—to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse’s most frightening tales.


My review:

The book starts on a late winter night in northern Rus’ (Russia) in Pytor Vladimirovich’s house. Dunya and the children were gathered around the oven. Dunya was about to tell the children a folktale about the frost-demon, the winter-king Karachun, when their mother, Marina, came in and joined in listening. Pytor was outside, assisting a ewe in giving birth. When he came in, Marina told him her news. She was expecting another child. This child would be like her mother, who was known as a witch-woman and had mysterious powers. She could tame animals, dream the future and summon rain. Pytor was worried about the news. Marina wasn’t a young woman, and he was afraid that she wouldn’t be strong enough for birth.

He was right. Marina died shortly after giving birth to Vasilisa (Vasya), and what she predicted came true. Vasya was a headstrong, willful, and almost feral. She also inherited her grandmother’s powers.

When she was six years old, she got lost in the forest outside her house and came upon an older man sleeping in the roots of a tree. Thinking that she could wake him up and he would know the way to her father’s house, she shook him. Only to find out that he is a hideously disfigured man. One eye was missing, with the socket sewn shut and with hideous scars on that side of her face. Still, she invites him back to her house if he can take her home. Then a genuinely supernatural thing happens, as she goes to take this stranger’s hand, a man on a white horse comes thundering to where they were, makes the older man go back to sleep and frightens Vasya, who ends up being found by Sascha, her beloved older brother.

After that escapade that Pytor decides to head to Moscow and get a wife for himself. He takes Sasha and Kolya with him. While he was there, he meets a mysterious stranger who gives him a beautiful jewel and tells him to hold on to it until Vasya gets older. If he doesn’t, this strange man will come after and kill Kolya.

Pytor does find a wife while in Moscow. His late wife’s half brother’s daughter, who sees demons and is classified as mad by her father, stepmother, and servants. Anna is her name, and she becomes my least favorite person in the book. After discovering that Vasya can talk to the household spirits and non-household spirits, Anna would beat her to get her repent. Not that it did any good. Vasya only became more feral, more headstrong.

When Vasya turns fourteen, a new priest is sent to her village since the old one has died. Anna begs the Metropolitan to send a new one, and they did. A young priest named Konstantin Nikonovich, who is considered somewhat of an upstart, is sent there to straighten him out. Anna is thrilled because he is driving out the demons (aka the household spirits) that she sees. Vasya, not so much, and she resorts to leaving offerings for them where her stepmother can’t see them or in rooms where she doesn’t go.

It is during that time that the mysterious man makes an appearance in Dunya’s dream, and he demands that she give Vasya the necklace. Dunya makes a bargain with him to wait another year to give it to her. In that year, everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

I loved Vasya. She was a spunky girl who called it like it was and wasn’t afraid to stand up to anyone or anything. I did think, at one point, that her spunkiness was going to get her killed, but it didn’t.

The end of the book is a must-read. It was fantastic. The very end of the book, though, is what got me, and it made me smile.


I would give The Bear and The Nightingale an Adult rating. There is no sex. There is no language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread The Bear and The Nightingale. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**