Back in January, when our book club was trying to decide what books to read next, we made a decision to change the type of book that we focus on reading. Since this book club started, we have read eclectically and widely across genres. We've explored everything from literary fiction to mystery to horror to classics. However, we were always drawn back to reading fantasy and science fiction. So, we decided to stop lying to ourselves and to spend our reading time focused on books that we really wanted to read. To that end, we have decided to make the Hatchet Coffee Book Club a science fiction & fantasy focused club. So, if you had been coming to this club and enjoyed the eclectic nature of our readings together, I suggest that you check out the Foggy Pine Book Club which is our general interest book club. Let's move on to this month's Hatchet Coffee book choice though.
This month we're reading The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. This is the first book in the Winternight trilogy. The second book is The Girl in the Tower and the third book, just released in February, is The Winter of the Witch. This book is Katherine Arden's debut novel but she's also written a children's chapter book, Small Spaces. So what is our book club book about? The publisher summary says:
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.
This book is one of the owner's, Mary, favorite books. She recommends it to her customers when they're looking for something magical but not silly, dark but ultimately hopeful, and well-written. Arden is an incredible writer who has the ability to weave sentences around her readers into a warm cozy blanket to snuggle up into. Her descriptions are quite evocative and bring the locale to mind in an intense and vivid manner. Her characters are thoughtfully rendered and they come to life on the page, only to jump out and go running amok in your mind. Truly, Arden is a fantastic writer.
If this sounds like something you'd enjoy reading, we really hope that you'll come grab a copy from the bookstore or from one of the local libraries, then join us at the book club meeting.
If you decide to get your copy from Foggy Pine Books, the paperback copies are on sale for 15% off until the end of the month. You can also buy it from us online, if you prefer to read a digital copy or listen to the audiobook.
We'll meet at Hatchet Coffee on March 28th at 7:30pm. Hatchet Coffee has drinks & snacks available for purchase but we typically also have snacks to share with one another. Bring a friend and come discuss the book with us, even if you weren't able to completely finish it or if you didn't like it. You can see the Facebook event & RSVP here .
Relevant Reviews & Interviews
'The Bear and the Nightingale' is a Rich Winter Tale -- NPR Book Review
The Bear and the Nightingale -- Kirkus Book Review
The Bear and the Nightingale -- Publisher's Weekly Book Review
Interview with Katherine Arden -- BookPage Interview
Katherine Arden: It's a great time for female fantasy writers --CNET Interview
Foggy Pine Books