[ARC] The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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Vasya is born in northern Russia, she is the daughter of the noble head of the village. Vasya is different, in her there is an old magic, and since childhood she is able to see the spirits around the village, both the guardian and the evil ones.

Life is happy, but the change is near: Vasya’s father, a widow, marries a noble woman who fears constantly the evil spirits, and in the village comes a new priest, young and ambitious.

The evil spirit, bound to the forest since years back, tries to exploit these changes in the town; Vasya ends up to be almost the only one to fight the evil to come.

The Bear and The Nightingale has the features of a fairy tale, but deals with strong themes: the traditional culture that is forgotten and lost in favour of new traditions, the suggestions that bring people to change their beliefs, the uncontrolled ambition that does not care for humanity and reason.

The novel is wonderful, adventurous and compelling, the story keeps constantly the reader in suspense, the characters are alive and the setting in the frosted Russia is wonderfully crafted. I’m enthusiast there is the possibility of a follow-up novel, and I absolutely suggest to read this installment.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.


* The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden ★★★★★

*I read this book in english

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

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Rosamund Hodge, già autrice di Cruel Beauty, un riuscito retelling de “La bella e la bestia”, ha ideato anche un originale retalling di “Cappuccetto rosso”, Crimson Bound.

Rachelle a quindici anni è l’apprendista della zia, una maga che protegge il villaggio dalla magia oscura della Foresta. Rachelle è anche avventata, e, fidandosi troppo di una creatura della foresta, viene legata per sempre alla Foresta, diventandone una sua creatura.

Tre anni dopo Rachelle, ancora umana ma con capacita fisiche oltre l’umano, è una delle protettrici del reame assieme ad altri blood-bound, finchè non le viene assegnato il compito di proteggere Armand, il figlio del re, unico a essere sopravvissuto all’incontro con le creature della foresta senza esserne stato legato.

Rachelle ha intenzione di portare avanti anche il progetto segreto di ritrovare le due spade mitiche che, secondo antichi racconti, avevano sconfitto l’origine del male della Foresta.

Crimson Bound è un romanzo scorrevole, in cui le parti di narrazione si alternano alla leggenda delle due spade. Personalmente l’ho trovato meno avvincente rispetto a Cruel Beauty, Rachelle è un personaggio attivo, ma la maggior parte degli avvenimenti la vedono passiva, e piuttosto miope rispetto ad alleanze e fazioni. In generale la trama è molto lineare (con alcune incongruenze a mio avviso), e in alcuni casi piuttosto prevedibile.

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Rosamund Hodge, author of Cruel Beauty, a good retelling of the “Beauty and the Beast”, wrote also an original retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood”, Crimson Bound.

Rachelle is fifteen and she is her aunt’s apprentice, the woman being a magician who protects the village from the dark magic of the Great Forest. Rachelle is also reckless, and, trusting too much a forestborn, ends up eternally bind to the Forest, and one of its creature.

Three years later, Rachelle, still human but with superhuman physical skills, is one of the bloodbound who fights for the realm against the Forest, until she is assigned to be the bodyguard of Armand, the king’s son, and the only human who survived the meeting with a forestborn without being bloodbound.

Rachelle has also the intention to carry on a personal project, to recover the two magical swords that once defeated the Forest, at least following the ancient stories.

Crimson Bound is a page turner, where the story of Rachelle alternates with the story of the sword. Personally I think it’s inferior to Cruel Beauty, and less engaging. Rachelle is an active character, but in most of the events she is quite passive, and short-sighted for alliances and factions. Overall the plot is quite linear (with some inconsistencies in my opinion), and sometimes quite foreseeable.

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Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge ★★★☆☆