Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Gathering Dark - Book Review

The Gathering Dark – Book Review
(US title – Shadow and Bone) (Book #1 of the Grisha Trilogy)
Written by:
Leigh Bardugo
YA Fantasy
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?
A story set in a world inspired by the architecture and culture of tsarist Russia, A Gathering Dark was utterly fantastical! The characters were amazing, the plot twists had me gasping and the entire setting was simply magical – if Ravka was a real place, I would be moving there now! It truly was a brilliant read.
For hundreds of years the barren wasteland of the Shadowfold has been a source of fear and despair for the people of Ravka. Created by dark magic, it separates the port towns from the capital city, cutting off trade routes and food supplies with its dry desert of impenetrable darkness and flesh eating monsters. But when Alina Starkov, a solider/map maker for the army is attacked during her regiments crossing of the Shadowfold, the worlds hope of ending the darkness is suddenly rekindled when Alina discovers that not only is she a Grisha – a person capable of wielding great magical power - but she is a wielder of light. An ability that has been considered nothing more than legend for thousands of years.
Now taken away from her simple life and her best/only friend Mal, Alina is taken to the royal palace where she is thrust into the rich and powerful world of the Grisha. Here she learns to control her powers, training in the hope that one day she will have the ability to bring down the Shadow Fold. However Alina’s attraction to the Darkling, the great and powerful leader of the Grisha earns her more than a few enemies, especially when he seems to return her feelings. But the Darkling has an agenda of his own…
I really did love this book, although I have to say that the first few chapters are a little heavy going. This being high fantasy, there is a lot of information to take in such as the various types of Grisha, army rankings and general locations of cities within the world. However I have to say Leigh Bardargo wrote everything amazingly. I did follow most of the set up and while there was a little bit of information overload, most things were easy to remember thanks to the map and helpful list of Grisha rankings set out at the beginning of the book.
Alina is a strong and very relatable protagonist. She struggles to accept all that has happened to her, doing her best live up to the expectation and responsibility that has literally been thrust upon her. As the book progresses, her confidence and trust in herself grows and she truly begins to understand the difference her power can make to the world.
The other characters were also very interesting and well developed. The Darkling in particular was mysterious, handsome and undoubtedly dangerous – which of course made him very swoon worthy. Alina’s attraction to him is totally understandable. However there is also Mal, Alina’s childhood friend who is funny, compassionate and with his roguish good looks – a little bit of a flirt. He’s a character you can’t help but like and overall Leigh Bardugo has created such a fabulous cast of characters.
In regards to the romance, while both the Darkling and Mal act as potential love interests there isn’t really much of a love triangle – at least not in the traditional sense. While reading the book it was impossible to guess what would happen next as there was so many sudden, total 180 degree spin, flip it all upside down plot twists which I really liked it. It just made both the story and the romance impossible to predict and I loved every minute of this book.
So to wrap it up The Gathering Dark was a brilliant read and one that I highly recommend to everyone. It’s a book that will keep you on your toes and certainly keep you turning pages. All I can say is that the next book can’t come soon enough! Magical, beautiful and darkly enticing, this epic fantasy is a five star read! Check it out!
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1 comment:

  1. Here's another book I'm dying to read after such a good review!