Winter Reading Discussion Topic #3

Just a reminder that our virtual book discussion will be held on March 21st at 10:00 MST, which is in just a few short weeks. A link to the meeting is posted on the blog.  

In preparation for that discussion, we have been posting topics to consider for each of the books we are reading. This month we will focus on the final two titles.


The Bear and the Nightingale

This book was selected for the winter reading program because of both the enchanted and classic winter setting of a medieval Russian forest, and the desire to explore the fantasy/fairy tale genre. I thought that, just like the stories told by the characters in the books, this type of fiction could warm up a long and seemingly endless winter night. Here are some questions that should help you prepare for our discussion.

Did you enjoy the fairy tale structure of the novel? What similarities did you find between the plots and creatures of Russian Folklore and Western fairy tales? What differences?

Which of the demons Vasya meets is your favorite?

Why do you think the villagers are so threatened by Vasya? What does she represent to them?

Like many fairy tales, a key theme of the book is sacrifice. Many characters give up something important to them. How do these sacrifices shape the narrative? Why is sacrifice an important theme of the book?


The Murder of Twelve

I chose this book because everyone loves a good murder mystery! The cozy mystery is incredibly popular right now and Jessica Fletcher is one of the genre’s power houses, a widow and English teacher turned writer/sleuth. This novel is perfect for our winter theme because of the idyllic winter lodge, an approaching storm, a wedding party, and of course, a murderer.

The story of a group of people trapped in a location with a killer in their midst is a classic mystery trope. Have you read other books with the same plot? How do they compare to this take on the pattern?

This book has a large cast of characters. Were you able to keep track of them all? Who was your favorite hotel guest?

If you were a fan of the television show Murder She Wrote, how do the books compare? What do you like better?

Although the author of the book is listed as Jessica Fletcher (the fictional protagonist) the text is ghostwritten by several different authors. There are many series that use this same tactic. How do you feel about this choice? Does it change the way you respond to the story?

Image Description: An AI generated image of an old village in the winter an the edge of a mountain/forest at night. The moonlight shines down from behind the clouds near the mountains on a white and frozen landscape with an old house with light in the windows and smoke coming out of the chimney.