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Disenchanted by Brianna Sugalski // Monsters, Banter and adventure through a dark forest

  GOODREADS // AMAZON // BOOK DEPOSITORY Breton princess at the peak of the French Renaissance, Lilac lives prisoner in her parents' castle after a wicked secret is revealed on the eve of her tenth birthday soirée. Years later, her coronation ceremony looms, and between the riotous townsfolk and scheming nobleman bent on snatching the throne, Lilac prepares for the worst... Until a mysterious letter arrives from The Witch of Lupine Grotto, detailing a curious offer to cure her darkness forever. Lilac begrudgingly trades her coronet for a cloak and ventures into the forest Brocéliande in pursuit of the impious enchantress at the edge of town. With only the protection of an inherited dagger—and unsolicited help of the sardonic stranger who inserts himself on her quest—she must traverse Brocèliande and return in time to claim her rightful position as sovereign monarch. This is the story of a cursed princess, A crestfallen killer, The town that wants them to burn, And the witch

Russian Folklore and Magic -The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden [Review]

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

'Frost-demons have no interest in mortal girls wed to mortal men. In the stories, they only come for the wild maiden.'

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods...

Wintry Russia is the most wonderful setting for a whimsical book such as this one. This book falls more into Magical Realism than fantasy. The creatures of Russian folklore are a part and parcel of the inhabitants’ lives. They might not be able to see them but it doesn’t stop them from leaving food out for the domovoi and the vazila. Except Vasya. She CAN see them. She befriends the spirits and helps them while also helping the people of her village stay safe from some of the mean creatures.

I loved Vasya. She’s one of the most relatable female characters I’ve ever read despite her belonging to an entirely different time period. She curious, wild, driven and at the end of the day, yearns for freedom.

“I would walk into the jaws of hell itself, if it were a path of my own choosing. I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed me.”
The book could feel heavy for some, with it’s take on politics, religion and the nuances that come with the intermingling of different religions and political views. This is not something that’s explicitly discussed in the book but it’s always there. It’s like a layer below the skin, not immediately visible but you feel it throughout.

What I really enjoyed the most were the folk tales, the story of the Frost King and how Katherine Arden magnificently weaves fairytales with the reality. The does such a good job that when I finally looked up from the book, I was utterly confused to see my room. The imagery of her writing is that powerful.

The lyrical prose reminded me of Maggie stiefvater’s writing but while Maggie’s writing feels to be a modern poetry, this is more a rustic poetry to fit medieval Russia.

“Nothing changes, Vasya. Things are, or they are not. Magic is forgetting that something ever was other than as you willed it.”
The book never went the way I thought it would. On an entirety the story seems predictable but it definitely isn’t. There isn’t just one plot. It’s a mix and match of various characters’ stories that meet at some or the other point. I can’t wait to read the next installment which I believe will be more an epic adventure than a homely mystery as book 1 was? The edition I have has a few pages of “The Girl in the Tower” and I’m quite excited that we get to see more of Vasya’s sister and her brother Sasha. I quite enjoyed his character in this book and was disappointed we didn’t see much of him after a point.

A whimsical book filled with Russian folklore and a tenacious heroine readers would grow to love. A must read if you love dark fantasies and magical realism stories.

Have you read this book? Did you like it? Do you like the genre magical realism?

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