The Bear And The Nightingale | The Girl In The Tower | Katherine Arden | Audiobook Review

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Bear And The Nightingale | The Girl In The Tower | Katherine Arden | Audiobook ReviewThe Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Narrator: Kathleen Gati
Length: 11 Hours 48 Minutes
Series: Winternight Trilogy #1
Also in this series: The Matchmaker's List
Also by this author: The Matchmaker's List
Published by Random House Publishing Group on January 10, 2017
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Magical Realism, Literary
Pages: 336
Format: Audiobook, eARC
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Katherine Arden’s bestselling debut novel spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice.   “A beautiful deep-winter story, full of magic and monsters and the sharp edges of growing up.”—Naomi Novik, bestselling author of Uprooted

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.

Praise for The Bear and the Nightingale

“Arden’s debut novel has the cadence of a beautiful fairy tale but is darker and more lyrical.”—The Washington Post

“Vasya [is] a clever, stalwart girl determined to forge her own path in a time when women had few choices.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“Stunning . . . will enchant readers from the first page. . . . with an irresistible heroine who wants only to be free of the bonds placed on her gender and claim her own fate.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Utterly bewitching . . . a lush narrative . . . an immersive, earthy story of folk magic, faith, and hubris, peopled with vivid, dynamic characters, particularly clever, brave Vasya, who outsmarts men and demons alike to save her family.”—Booklist (starred review)

“An extraordinary retelling of a very old tale . . . The Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderfully layered novel of family and the harsh wonders of deep winter magic.”—Robin Hobb

Why Did I Listen To The Bear And The Nightingale by Katherine Arden?

The Bear And The Nightingale by Katherine Arden is basically human catnip to a reader like myself. It’s a story that is modeled after a Russian fairy tale. It is set in Winter. WHAT IS NOT TO LIKE ABOUT THIS COZY SOUNDING BOOK. I love fantasy stories. And I love it when a book has beautiful sounding writing. So, yeah I grabbed this bad boy from Netgalley. Then it sat, because I am the worst. It sat for so long, that I downloaded the sequel via audio from the Volumes app. I am one of those people who likes to read a series in a consistent format, so I placed a hold for this audiobook via Overdrive and waited for what felt like MONTHS. And well, friends, IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT.

What’s The Story Here?

Okay, so the book opens up with a fairy tale about a girl who seeks to marry Frost because her stepmother is making her. Then we go into this woman, Marina, who is about to have a baby. Marina knows that having the baby will kill her and leave her current children motherless, she goes ahead with the pregnancy anyways. The baby is a girl – Vasya. The Bear And The Nightingale then picks up years later when Vasya is six – and she comes across a mysterious man in the woods while she’s lost. Anyways, eventually Vasya gets a stepmother named Anna who is weird and sees ghosts. Her sister, Olga, ends up married to this guy Vladimir. And then, there’s a Winter King who comes and messes things up – like kills all these animals and people are dying and it is just awful. So, it is on Vasya to figure out what’s up and save the day. OH and also Vasya can talk to the house spirits and has a little bit of magic about her. THERE IS SO MUCH HAPPENING HERE.

How Did I Like The Bear And The Nightingale?

Okay, so I really want to re-read this book later in print. I think that unfortunately with audio, my attention wavered. And well, if I have to ALSO use my imagination for the world, I just have zero clues about what is going on. The writing in this book is beautiful, don’t get me wrong. The imagery is on point. I felt loyal to Vasya. And also, I almost cried in the beginning with Marina, because as a mom, I was really in my feelings. Still, I just want a better, closer reading. Also, I think once I clear out more books from my shelves, I would really like to own this book anyways. So, I would be more than happy to re-read.

How’s The Narration?

The audiobook of The Bear And The Nightingale is narrated by Kathleen Gati. Gati is completely new to me as a narrator. My own personal audio judgement jury has come back with the verdict that I like her narration. It is perfect for this book. She has a voice with an interesting timbre. She sounds all old world. I just loved it. I think that they could not have picked a better audiobook narrator.

Other reviews of The Bear And The Nightingale by Katherine Arden:

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Why Did I Listen To The Girl In The Tower by Katherine Arden:

After listening to The Bear And The Nightingale, Arden’s first book of the Winter Night Trilogy, OF COURSE I needed to listen to The Girl In The Tower, which is the sequel. Also? I downloaded The Girl In The Tower from Volumes way before I had even put a hold on The Bear And The Nightingale at the library. However, it is kind of weird to read series books out of order (I do not recommend) and so, I had to wait. Thankfully, the first book is so good that I really was happy to continue on with this series.

What’s The Story Here?

Clearly, The Girl In The Tower picks up where The Bear And The Nightingale leaves off. This time, the story opens with Olga telling a story to children about a married couple making a girl out of snow to be their child, as that couple is childless (much like Olga). So, I kind of like that this book also opens with a fairytale. I am not anticipating book three, The Winter Of The Witch to open with a fairytale as well. So, in this book, Vasya is no longer at her home because everyone thinks she is a witch (no one has accused her of turning them into a newt). So, she’s riding around with her horse, Solovey. Eventually, she is honored by her sister’s husband as a hero – but he thinks she’s a boy. All sorts of things HAPPEN. And now I am on these tenterhooks for book three.

How Did I Like The Girl In The Tower?

OF COURSE I LOVED IT. I mean, yeah okay it is the second book in a trilogy and I am desperate for more. But you guys! There’s one of my favorite tropes – a girl who dresses as a boy and has ADVENTURES. Heck yes, I am here for it. HERE FOR IT. But also, the writing is quite good. The characterization and development is right where I need it to be. And plus, I am ready and prepared for the final book.

How’s The Narration?

Kathleen Gati also narrates The Girl In The Tower, just as she did The Bear And The Nightingale. Honestly, my opinion of her narrating has not changed from book to book in this series. This audiobook is 13 hours and 2 minutes long. Otherwise, yeah, I liked the audiobook, but I want to read this physically myself again.

Other reviews of The Girl In The Tower by Katherine Arden:

Purchase or Preview The Girl In The Tower:

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. These sound like so much fun! I just started the second book in the Seraphina series, so it may be a minute, but this may be my next series to read.


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