Bear and the Nightingale (Arden) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for The Bear and the Nightingale ... then take off on your own:

1. What elements of the classic fairy tale can you identify in The Bear and the Nightingale?

2. Describe Vasya. What kind of a child is she?

3. Follow-up to Question 2: Vasya and her step mother, Anna, have a gift of sight in common. How does each view her particular gift: why does one reject it and the other embrace it?

4. Forbidding the worship of pagan gods by an emergent Christianity occurred throughout Europe and Russia. In Katherine Arden's fabulist story, how does does this prove dangerous?

5. Follow-up to Question 4: Historically, Russians held to the concept of "dual belief," the idea that two the religions, Christianity and paganism, could exist side by side. How is that concept portrayed in Arden's book? What are your thoughts on dual belief?

6. Why might Arden have opened her story with Dunya telling the story of Frost, which proves to be a harbinger of what is to come? How does predictive structure affect the way you read the novel?

7. Did the book's shifting perspectives engage you ... or confuse you?

8. Fables typically end with a moral. What is the underlying lesson that Katherine Arden is reaching for in The Bear and the Nightingale?

9. The Bear and the Nightingale is the first part of a planned trilogy. Any guesses as to the plot of the second installment—or where it might pick up from this first novel? Are you looking forward to reading it?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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