Review of The Bear and the Nightingale

Title: The Bear and the Nightingale

Author: Katherine Arden

Series: The Bear and the Nightingale

Genre: Fantasy, Folklore

Source: NetGalley

3

 

PEEK-A-BOO

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and calls on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

(Source: Goodreads)

MY TAKE ON TBATN

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Review of Awaken

Title: Awaken

Author: Demelza Carlton

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Retelling

3

PEEK-A-BOO

A sleeping beauty. A kingdom frozen in time. Only one can save them all.
Once upon a time…

Lord Siward intended to go hunting, but when he stumbles upon a ruined castle and accidentally wakes the mysterious maiden sleeping inside, he knows his holiday is over.
With the kingdom in trouble, Siward should be protecting the realm, but every time Rosamond looks at him, he gets lost in the girl’s green eyes. Who is the mysterious beauty, and why does he feel she holds the key to the kingdom’s deliverance?

{Source: Goodreads}

MY TAKE ON AWAKEN

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Review of A Court of Thorns and Roses

3

ACOTAR

 

TITLE: A Court of Thorns and Roses

AUTHOR: Sarah J Maas

SERIES: A Court of Thorns and Roses

GENRE:  Fantasy

SOURCE: Library

 

BEST QUOTE:

“Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”

PEEK A BOO

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

[Source: Goodreads]

RATINGS:

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MY TAKE ON A C O T A R

 

[Dear Readers, However much I tried to lessen it, this review is NOT spoiler free.]

 

There are those who seek me a lifetime but never we meet

And those I kiss but who trample me beneath ungrateful feet.

At times I seem to favour the clever and the fair

But I bless all those who are brave enough to dare

By large, my ministrations are soft – handed and sweet,

But scorned, I become a difficult beast to defeat.

For though each of my strikes lands a powerful blow,

When I kill, I do it slow…

Sarah J Maas does it once again! She brings another fantastic series to mesmerize us completely. Set clearly on the lines of The Beauty and the Beast [one of my favourite fairy tales], it certainly has its own charm.

Although let me confess that if I compare TTOG to ACOTAR – TTOG will be my first choice. I will discuss about those few shortcomings, which brought me down to this choice, in the later part of the article. Nonetheless, the ingenious creative power of Sarah J Maas cannot be questioned.

The outline of the story maybe similar to the fairy tale but that is where the similarity ends. With her remarkable ability Maas, builds an enchanted world of Prythian – the lands of Fae. Our nineteen year mortal girl, Feyre – the huntress, embarks upon a journey to this faerie land of Prythian when she commits a crime breaching the treaty between the mortals and immortals – humans and fae. Coming to unknown lands and living with the creatures, which she was taught to hate and fear, Feyre tries to carve a nook of her own in this place.

How can anyone convert a simple fairytale into something that can be built into a 416 pages of nail biting, non-stop page turner – I am just unable to figure it out! The plot progress is steady and there are turning points at regular intervals which keep the reader hooked. The description of the places in Prythian is ethereal- the woods, the gardens, the lake they all belong to earth and yet they do not. The creatures, of the faerie world, in the book are equally interesting- some good, some bad but all unique. Not only this, I loved the layout of the whole Prythian land- into seven courts namely Spring, Autumn, Summer, Winter, Dawn, Day and Night.

The story has been told from Feyre point of view. Her fears, her doubts, her hate, her opinions and clashes within – are so real. From a very young age, she has been burdened to take care of her family. With her two elder sisters and a father – who do not help to ease the burden at all- she lives a very difficult and hard life. For the sake of the promise given to her mother when she was barely eight, she does everything in her might, to keep her family alive. One feels so frustrated seeing the family sitting idly when the youngest of them is tackling death every day of their life- to keep all of them alive. This shows that Feyre is a fighter, from the start to the end.

The first part of the book is more about knowing the unknown land and its people with their traditions and rules. The first part of the book is a stepping stone – with small, terrifying encounters and mysteries running in the background – to the action-packed thrilling series of events in the later part of the book.

The relation building between Tamlin – the main fae and Feyre is also quite romantic. I would say it’s steamier in comparison to romantic angles of TTOG series. Although, some reviews may remark their chemistry – a result of Stockholm syndrome; I refuse to believe it so. Tamlin always shows kindness and understanding wherever Feyre is concerned. He continuously tries to protect her from danger, to the extent of sending her away, from him as well – that too at the most crucial hour. He looks after her needs and her interests. Not only this, to save her, he discards his self esteem and bows low before the enemy.

I am a great admirer of Sarah’s skill of character building. Her characters are unique in their own. She makes their presence known and unforgettable. Though this time, in this particular book, I loved the secondary characters more than the main ones. Other than Tamlin and Feyre, I liked three characters the most- Lucien, Nesta and Rhysand.

Lucien:- Working as an emissary, he is a close friend of Tamlin. He has his own mysterious and sorrowful past, for which he grieves still. He loathes Feyre initially, but becomes her good friend in due course of time. His relationship with Feyre is like being best buddies. His banters and teasing dialogues are very amusing. His loyalty towards Tamlin is solid as a rock. Even under the mountain, he comes to Feyre’s aid taking a risk on his life. It seems Sarah took great pleasure in building this character. Most of the best lines have been spoken by Lucien.

Nesta:- The eldest of Feyre’s sister is someone whom you can hate at first sight. I personally was more than happy seeing Feyre leave them all, when she had to go to Prythian [had the feeling of good riddance.] But Nesta’s stronger side is revealed when she meets Feyre again. This meet and heart to heart talk between the sisters throws light on the reasons behind Nestas’ acidic behaviour previously. Her emotions towards Feyre become much clearer and one is left respecting Nesta rather than hating her. Her immunity towards glamour gives me a feel of her becoming more important in later series.

Rhysand:- This character is my favourite along with Lucian [Yup, You got it, Tamlin didn’t get to me 🙂]. Friend or Foe, Foe or Friend, Friend or Foe…. These two words kept on swaying, like a pendulum, at the back of my head throughout the time when I read about Rhys. Though introduced, in a creepy manner, in the first half of the book; he comes with a more solid ground in the later half. Striking a deal with Feyre by tricking her seems too mean at that point of time. As I read, I kept on wondering- what is his motive behind, why is he doing this, is it a trick… [the pendulum starts again] But as the story progresses, slowly and slowly, Rhys changes your thinking about himself. He and Feyre come to an understanding of sorts at the near end. I like him even more after he plunges in, to save Feyre, without thinking of his own safety. [At the end, he leaves with a shock on his face while speaking to Feyre… I wonder why?? What did he see or did he feel something??]

Now, let me focus upon the few shortcomings which I had mentioned earlier. I really loved the whole book, I really did. The only part where I was disappointed was the growth and depth in Tamlin’s character- especially in the later half. I think Sarah J Mass could have allowed us, by any means, to know what was going in Tamlin’s mind when Feyre was struggling for her life, to save his. All I am able to see is that he sits there as a rock without showing any emotions. I do understand that he was doing it for Feyre, but those blank looks crumble my bond with Tamlin. Couldn’t he even pass message through Lucien??

As if this wasn’t enough, Sarah brings Tamlin in close contact to Feyre, at the brink of the climax only to shatter my expectations more. Escaping the watchful eyes once, Tamlin beckons Feyre for having a physical bonding!!! Does it make sense? At the time, when one doesn’t know whether she will live the next moment or not, I think the person needs to hear words of encouragement, hope or gratitude… rather than being touched all over!!! This part really didn’t settle with me well.

Ignoring these small shortcomings, I must still say that, this book is really great. It is a must read. Sarah J Maas has done an excellent job. She clearly holds an upper hand in constructing stories around old fairy tales. Her meticulous layout of the characters, events and the whole story line is exemplary.

If given a choice, I would love to live in the world of faeries built by Sarah J Mass anyday.