Almost on track with my ‘one in three weeks’ novel review schedule, I kinda feel good about myself – considering this was the finals week. Moving on to the subject matter, this novel was a blind pick at the library and my qualms were what blind dates give. But I let this novel lead the way and delved into it like the next big unknown adventure. This novel is a nice read for the lovers of magical fantasies. It has a folklore, a modern day story which falls in sync with the folklore and a liberating woman who changes the face of it. Feminists, fantasy lovers, magic believers or just readers, it is a recommended read.
The Bear and the Nightingale is based on the Russian folklore of The Frost. The story, though has a magical fantasy backdrop, has a deeper meaning to it. Vasya, the last born of Mariana, lady of the northern lands and Pyotr’s wife, is the protagonist of the novel. Growing up, she and her siblings hear folklores and live in a humble household, being mothered by Dunya. They live through harsh winters and work through the summer. The peace of the land is broken when Pyotr marries his second wife, Anna, an all-fearing human. She sees demons everywhere as does Vasya, though in a totally different light. The magical journey of domovoi and rushalka’s, The Frost and The Bear (synonymous to death and fear) begins as the existing balance and harmony is disturbed by the god-fearing priest (Konstantin). What follows in growing fear which gnaws into people’s lives and the atmosphere around. There are famines and fire, deaths and the undead, attacks of the upyr and long winter nights. Vasya, having magic in her veins, protects her hearth until the ‘evil stepmother’ decides to throw her an impossible challeneg to see her dead. In her jouney to find snowdrops in frosting winter, Vasya meets The Frost King and then starts the last battle to survival.
The underlying message that this story conveys is of freedom of a woman and sacrifice for love above all. This fearless sacrifice has the capacity to bind fear itself and sheild the individuals it threatens to afflict.
PS- This magical fantasy has the makings of a movie script.
Ideal Movie Cast: Vasya- Jennifer Lawrence (design the rest around her :P)
Favourite Quote: “Magic is forgetting that something ever was other than as you willed it.” – Frost King