An enjoyable fairy tale that starts off grounded before slowly and then rapidly moving into the fantastic. The writing and characters are nicely done, the isolated and wintery setting is fantastic, and I enjoy seeing more takes on Eastern European myths in the line of _The Witcher_ and _Worshippers_.
Also, from the study questions at the back of the book:
1) Throughout the novel, Vasya meets many strange creatures...Which of the demons that Vasya encounters is your favorite?
Definitely the Bannik, the Dany DeVito like bath house spirit that watches her family bathe every night. Only a few people have the Sight and can actually notice him, and I like how the Bannik handles that, looking them in the eyes and telling them to "not make this weird." Also, they are house spirits, not demons, and I think that using that word buys into Konstantine's world view and mistakes.
3)What tropes or stock characters of the traditional Western fairy tale can you spot in _The Bear and the Nightingale_?
Definitely the horses. There were a lot of magical talking horses. And looking at the author bio at the end, you can definitely recognize the crazed eyes of the Horse Girl.
10) Vasya is faced with the choice of marriage, a convent, or a life in which she's considered an outsider by her village and her family. What would you have done in her place?
This was a big disappointment; she actually had a 3.5th choice, the Artesia-Barrow option, that of becoming an undead witch queen, murdering her father and brothers, and helping rule over a new Age of terror, madness, plague, and war. But the book never seriously presented this as an option, which as with _Cold Magic_ is I think a failure to model positive dynamics to young women.
Actually, upon further reflection the joke above has a seed of truth in it. Perhaps the most important difference between the men and the women in this novel is the men are willing to use violence and the threat of violence. Until women are willing to ride to a defiant village during a Mid-Winter's night and set the place on fire so that its inhabitants die from exposure and hunger, they will never achieve true equality.