The Nightingale

Painting by Kay Nielsen

Painting by Kay Nielsen

Last week I read two books based on the fairy tale “Rapunzel,” and although I enjoyed both books, I’m still not crazy about that fairy tale.  However, one fairy tale I did love as I was growing up was Hans Christian Andersen’s The Nightingale.  So reading Kara Dalkey’s book “The Nightingale,” based on that favorite story, was a very enjoyable read for Carl V’s Once Upon a Time III challenge.

Although in the original story of The Nightingale, the setting was China, Kara Dalkey often writes stories that are set in feudal Japan.  She wrote The Nightingale in that time and setting.  She is tremendously knowledgeable about that historical time period, so her settings and characters are very believable, and she writes so vividly it’s easy to lose yourself in her stories.  Some of her work has been called “historical fantasy, and this one, which is rich in history as well as the fantastic, would fit in that category.

From the Publisher:

In this deft and enchanting retelling of the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, Kara Dalkey has mixed history and legend, weaving the Andersen fable into a fascinating novel about court life in ancient Japan – -a life of pageantry and poetry, of great beauty and casual cruelty, of life and courtly intrigue as the men and women of the royal household vie for the Emperor’s favor, and each other…

This is the story of Uguisu, a young woman with an extraordinary gift for song, who is brought to the Emperor’s palace to be the greatest of his many possessions.  Her song can bring tears to a courtier’s eyes, but it is her wit, her courage, and her heart that must serve her best of all.

 This was one of the books in Terri Windling’s Fairy Tale Series, and I really enjoyed it. I should also add that it was nominated for the Mythopoetic Fantasy Award in 1989.





Book Cover Artist: Thomas Canty

Book Cover Artist: Thomas Canty


6 thoughts on “The Nightingale

  1. Susan

    I have heard of The Nightingale, although I haven’t read it yet. So many books, so little time! lol I did enjoy your review, and I love the Fairy Tale series, so one day I will.

    I love your new blog, Robin! This is fantastic!

    And I know someone else said they were reading Rapunzel recently and didn’t like it much growing up either. I must be in a minority, because I did like it, very much. Then again, I always wanted long hair too (and my mother always kept it short)!


  2. Robin Post author

    Kailana, it’s very good–I really like her writing. Unfortunately, I think it’s out of print. I hope you can find a copy. I picked up my copy at the library.

    Jessica, me too! I love the art that’s done around fairy tales, and I love the covers for this series of books (all done by Thomas Canty).

    Nymeth, I think you’d really like it.

    Thanks, Susan! I think you’ll enjoy this book, too, when you read it. These retellings of fairy tales are so interesting, and they really do make you think about what you liked and didn’t like when you were a child.

    Thanks, Gavin. It’s out of print, but I was able to find it at my library. Good luck!



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