The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

the bearIn essence this is a folk-tale, a Russian fairytale. It combines the darkness of old tales told in front of fires and the magic of ancient myths. It is a book I would buy to read to a child and also to gift to an older reader.

Vasya was born from and into magic. She is and comes, as her mother and grandmother before her, from a long line of magical beings. At a glance Vasya just seems to be a tomboy with a love of the great outdoors.

At a closer look you find a child with more than just an affinity for nature. She can see the guardians, the demons, the creatures lurking in the shadows, and she can also see the powerful beings who control life or death.

She becomes the object of fascination for two warring brothers, each one of them powerful enough to cause fear, hunger and death in a huge scale. She doesn’t understand that until it is almost too late.

Vasja finds it easier to connect to the invisible beings than the living ones around her. Her talents or gifts make her a target for the fearful accusations of those who do not understand or accept the old ways.

I think readers will find themselves captivated by the feel and voice of this story. The feeling of an old Russian master with the flair of a nouveau writer. I really enjoyed it.

Buy The Bear and the Nightingale at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Monster by C.J. Skuse


I wasn’t expecting it to get so dark, probably because it starts out with a general Enid Blyton boarding school feel to it. The normal toxic relationships between teenage girls living in close vicinity to each other. Away from their parents and siblings, and shut off from the real world, as they go about their daily life in a cold and strict environment.

Skuse lulls the reader into a false sense of security. The focus is on the myth of the monster, the fear of the unknown and the slightly dysfunctional boarding school atmosphere.

Then from out of nowhere the pace, the plot and the genre changes in one foul swoop. I can’t tell you what, why, when or who, because it would spoil the surprise heading your way.

I think it is possible Skuse might return to this particular set of characters, because of the way she left the beast storyline. Something to explore in the future perhaps?

Overall it was a surprising read that will appeal to readers who like some innocence with their gore, a portion of mean with their candy floss sugary sweet and a wee bit of gnarly bloody beast with their murders.

Looking forward to see where this author takes us next with her twisted imagination.

Buy Monster at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read The Deviants by C.J. Skuse or Sweetpea.