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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly enchanting debut novel!
The Gathering Dark is a truly enchanting debut novel which is full of suspense and action. It introduces us to the world of Grisha. It was well fleshed out and I literally fell into the world and wanted to know so much more about it. It was very magical. I loved how unique the world was and how easily it was to understand despite how complex it is underneath the surface...
Published on 26 July 2012 by ReadWriteReviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too many clichés ruin a perfectly good fantasy
I hate to admit it, but I was a little disappointed by The Gathering Dark (or Shadow and Bone, to use its US title). When I found it in the library, I thought I'd unearthed a real treasure of a book, a dark and chilling fantasy that would have me reading at all hours of the day and night. And while it was on the whole enjoyable and interesting, I could have put it down at...
Published 13 months ago by Paper Doll


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly enchanting debut novel!, 26 July 2012
By 
This review is from: The Gathering Dark: The Grisha 1 (Paperback)
The Gathering Dark is a truly enchanting debut novel which is full of suspense and action. It introduces us to the world of Grisha. It was well fleshed out and I literally fell into the world and wanted to know so much more about it. It was very magical. I loved how unique the world was and how easily it was to understand despite how complex it is underneath the surface. I just loved it all, the different Grisha's, The Darkling and of course the Sun Summoner.

This book was a real page turner I did not want to put it down, but of course I had to. This book really hooked me, I read it for hours on end just letting the magical story come to life in my mind, it was incredible and I LOVED IT! I literally got lost in this book; the whole world around me disappeared when I read this. Not many books have this effect on me so it was quite a shock. This book was a real surprise, it was so much better than I expected and it is easily one of the best books I've read.

I loved the characters, they were all well-built and complex, even the minor characters. They all seemed so real. Alina especially, I loved her character and how she knew she was different but was afraid to admit it. I loved how she grew throughout the book. All of her emotions were conveyed incredibly, and they all pulled at my heartstrings, when Alina felt pain, I felt it too. I loved Mal too, I always felt attached to him and when Alina left him behind, I felt so much sorrow for him. The Darkling is the mysterious handsome man that rules the Grisha and he truly is a mystery to us all, no matter how close Alina got she was only scraping the surface of his personality.

Leigh Bardugo has done an incredible job of creating a fantastic world and some very memorable characters that will stick with me for a long time. The Gathering Dark, also known as Shadow and Bone in the USA, is a very unique book which will leave you wanting more. Like I said in this post it is one of the best books I've ever read and I can't wait for book 2. I'll definitely be buying a finished copy when it's released in June 2012.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy with a russian romantic feel, 15 July 2012
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This review is from: The Gathering Dark: The Grisha 1 (Paperback)
Fantasy is one of my favourite favourite genres, but sometimes when I read fantasy books I can get completely overwhelmed by the setting and world building and the history of the story. But The Gathering Dark wasn't like that at all. The concept of magic wielding Grisha living in Ravka was set up beautifully, so that it completely captured my imagination and was easy to read and get into. With the menacing Shadow Fold splitting Ravka in two, there was a sense of foreboding underlying and driving the plot. As Alina discovered some hidden powers, she was thrown into a completely new world which tested her, amazed but also surprised her.

I loved the idea that Grisha had hierarchies based on their gifts and area of expertise, whether that was healers or Fabirkators. From the outside, Grisha seemed magical, perfect and beautiful - a life of splendor. But on the inside there was actually jealousy, prejudice and fighting. With the Darkling at the top of that hierarchy, everyone deferred to him and fought for his attention. It was these psychological complexities that added so much intrigue as I tried to understand each of the characters and whether they could be trusted or not.

The Darkling was the most mysterious character of all; he was aloof, secretive and powerful. He would often disappear for weeks, coming and going as he pleased. As leader of the Grisha, he had this appeal and attraction surrounding him that people in positions of power often have, and like Alina I could feel myself drawn to him. Despite this, there was also something about him that felt a little dangerous and exciting but I couldn't put my finger on it and figure out what that was. But I liked the fact that he oozed mystery because it kept me guessing.

Alina was the kind of protagonist that I like, as she started off weak and vulnerable and to be honest a little snappy. But as she developed her gifts she became much more positive and happy. I liked the fact throughout the story she still kept her own sense of personality and didn't submit to everyone else's wishes.

Mal and Alina have had this close connection since childhood when they met in an orphanage. They've been best friends for years, but Alina can't help but feel something more for him. But he doesn't seem to notice her, which made me want to shake him senseless. To start with we didn't really see much of Mal, but later into the story he really came into his own and I have to admit I started falling for him a little. His protectiveness and caring side balanced really well against his manly, rugged, independent side making him the perfect hero to any story.

The Dark Gathering was a thrilling and enchanting fantasy; easy to read and hard to put down.

Rating: 5*
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting read, 10 July 2012
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This review is from: The Gathering Dark: The Grisha 1 (Paperback)
First of all, I think the summary on the front and back cover is a little misleading. (Front cover)"A dark heart. A pure soul. A love that will last forever" and (back cover) "Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance." It makes the book sound like it's solely about romance (and possibly even of the Twilight-esque romance.) But it's not.

This book *is* epic and it is glorious and it is irresistible. Romance does factor into this book, but primarily this is about a girl who finds out she has a great power and coming to terms with that, her new world, and inevitably, her destiny.

I really did enjoy this book. If I had to discuss components, I would say it had a little "Chaos Walking" in it (adventure with two close friends - a girl and a boy), a touch of Divergent (an underdog fighting her way through), a touch of fantasy, a touch of magic, and of course, a dash of romance. I loved the characters. I loved Alina and I loved Mal. I really loved the character Genya. It's hard to say more without spoiling the book, but this is a fantastic read with high-quality writing and great characters - which is something that seems to be hard to come by!

The pace of the book kept on building and that was great. To be honest, I have no idea what direction the book will go in next and I'm uncertain if it can be as great as this, but I do look forward to it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favourite Book of the Year So Far!, 13 Jun 2012
By 
Jess Hearts Books (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Gathering Dark: The Grisha 1 (Paperback)
I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive to read this book simply because I literally have a love/hate relationship with the fantasy genre. I tend to either absolutely love a fantasy novel or loath it with no middle ground so I'm always anxious when starting a new fantasy book to see which category it falls under. I'd heard so much hype for this book in the US (US title Smoke and Bone) that I had high hopes for The Gathering Dark and I'm happy to say the hype is totally justified!

The reason I'm so picky with my fantasy is that I like to lose myself in a fantasy world from the start and so the book needs to immerse me in its culture. If the book doesn't really go into the politics, names, and descriptions and I have to keep jarring myself out of the story to flick through and look it up then I give up on a book pretty quickly. For me it takes a talented storyteller indeed who can comfortably get me settled into their world and gives me enough information and description so that I can imagine the world with ease and can completely lose myself in their world without getting confused and having to constantly suss out the who's who and what's what in order to enjoy the book. I like to get sucked into a fantasy land smoothly and with effortlessness and Leigh Bardugo does that with the Kingdom of Ravka seamlessly.

Alina's world is rich with detail and so well imagined. I loved the idea of having a magical elite in the Grisha with magicians who each have a speciality be it death, healing, fire, air, fabrics amongst numerous other things. I loved learning about the Grisha and their place in society. This book is a literal battle between light and dark as Alina discovers a power like no other Grisha that may be the key to saving Ravka from The Shadow Fold and restore the Kingdom to its former glory.

Alina is the perfect heroine she herself admits to being average in every way but as she learns about her new power she goes from being a normal girl to Ravka's saviour and as the book goes on she makes a lot of tough calls and brave decisions and I totally respected her as our heroine.

My favourite kind of romance is when childhood friends grow into something more so Alina and Mals relationship was always going to be a winner for me. I fell for Mal pretty much from the start and only grew to love him more as the book continued. He's charming, funny, and hugely likeable and his relationship with Alina was wonderful to read and watch develop.

The Darkling has to be the best villain I've come across in a long time you never quite know whether to trust him or not. He's dangerous, seductive, and persuasive and I couldn't help but be drawn to him along with Alina. I love when the bad guy has a good backstory and isn't just bad for the sake of it but because he truly believes that what he's doing is the right thing to do. The Darkling was powerful, charismatic, and fearsome and was everything I could hope for in a good villain.

I picked up this book purposefully because I was looking for a nice chunky book that could last me a while. Despite being a big book I read this in one night a rarity for me especially with a book of this size. I literally could not put it down and refused to part with it until I was finished in the early hours of the morning. The Gathering Dark held me captivated from start to finish and has to be my favourite book of 2012 so far. Even if fantasy's not usually your thing I'd fully recommend giving this book a go. If you like books that transport you to richly imagined fantastical places, that introduces you to vibrant and warm characters, that has a gorgeous romance, and best of all an epic battle between good and evil then look no further. I loved every second spent with this book and thoroughly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of SteppingOutOfThePage, 23 May 2012
By 
This review is from: The Gathering Dark: The Grisha 1 (Paperback)
Terms such as 'The Shadow Fold', 'Ravka' and the 'Grisha' intimidate me. I don't really know why, but they made me think that this book was going to be some sort of epic fantasy or something really complicated. However, I've been surprising myself this year by picking up things I wouldn't normally read. I knew I had to read this book after reading so many positive things about it - and oh my, I am so glad that I did!

I opened the book and saw a list of the Grisha - Corporalki, Etherealki and Materialki - without much explanation as to who they were. You guessed it - I was confused already. I'm one of those people who has to have a reason for everything and has to know why things are how they are. Anyway, making notes of these terms, I started reading and I was no longer confused. This book is not confusing in the least when you get into it. If you're a little bit scared about being thrown into a book that has some foreign words in it, don't be. There are some non-english words in this book, but it is so easy to know what's being talked about - it just adds to the authenticity of the story. Bardugo's writing is fantastic. Within a couple of chapters, she managed to have me completely absorbed into this other world - in Ravka and its inhabitants.

I loved meeting Alina, our main character, and the boy she grew up with, Mal. I thought their relationship together was really well shown - it's clear that they have a very strong bond together and have gone through bad times and good. They worked very well together as a team and I can't wait to see what happens with them next. There were quite a few interesting characters that were already well formed by the end of this first book and I am looking forward to seeing what happens to them, too! I absolutely loved Genya, a girl that Alina befriends at Os Alta, where the leaders of Ravka reside. I thought that the pair had a friendship that felt genuine - Genya was just the type of girl I'd have liked to have met if I'd been in Alina's shoes. I thought that the minor characters, or the characters we didn't see/hear much of were just as important as the main characters in this book, feeling strong and each having their own purpose.

The action in this book is mainly centred around The Shadow Fold, a very dangerous place for all of the people in Ravka, especially those who try to cross it. The Darkling, one of the most important people in Ravka, has his own ideas about The Shadow Fold and it's interesting to see what he's really like when we find out more about him during the book. There was just the right amount of action in this book for me - there wasn't constant physical battles, but there was always something happening, most constantly the internal battles of Alina. I thought that learning about the Grisha and their supernatural talents was super interesting and one of the highlights of the book for me.

This book may sound dark, and I guess it is, but there is also a lot of humour - I was really surprised with how much humour was in this book, actually. The snarky remarks of some of the characters really made me laugh and made me take a shine with them. This was a really well-developed, captivating story with good world-building. I am hoping that this is a series that will have consistent quality as I can easily see it becoming one of my favourites. Fans of Young Adult literature will eat this up. I can't wait to read the next book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too many clichés ruin a perfectly good fantasy, 21 Aug 2013
This review is from: The Gathering Dark: The Grisha 1 (Paperback)
I hate to admit it, but I was a little disappointed by The Gathering Dark (or Shadow and Bone, to use its US title). When I found it in the library, I thought I'd unearthed a real treasure of a book, a dark and chilling fantasy that would have me reading at all hours of the day and night. And while it was on the whole enjoyable and interesting, I could have put it down at any point without worrying about what happened.

The story takes place in a fantasy country called Ravka, where a dark void called The Shadow Fold filled with dangerous monsters is destroying the land. The hope everyone has been waiting for comes in the form of our heroine Alina, an orphan and mapmaker who goes from being always overlooked to the centre of attention when she discovers that she has a unique power to summon light. Her power puts her among the Grisha, the magical elite, each with their own specific power. Leader of the Grisha is the Darkling, a young-looking man who Alina can't help but feel drawn to with his mysterious power to summon the dark. He whisks her off to the Palace to live a lavish life among the Grisha, protected from Ravka's enemies who wish to harm the only hope the country has to rid themselves of the Shadow Fold.

When I picked up this book I was enthusiastic and excited. There's definitely plenty of fascinating invented history and mythology for this land; it wasn't lacking in fantasy or imagination and I loved the idea of the Grisha and their different coloured robes (Keftas) depending on what their power was. At times it did become hard to follow because the world and the words invented by Bardugo, mostly describing the different types of Grisha, weren't always explained properly, but the world Bardugo has created and the idea of the Grisha was interesting enough for that not to matter. The last third of the book was just as intriguing; I won't spoil the plot for you but there was a great adventure and a mission to the save world!

The disappointment was the middle part of the book, which told of Alina's time at the Little Palace, where the Grisha live. Alina comes here to learn properly how to be a Grisha, but at this point the plot and the fantasy gave way to school politics. It became thoroughly unoriginal: the new student with an amazing power, far better than anyone else's, who couldn't get to grips with it and came to the conclusion that she was worthless and didn't belong with her schoolmates (which seemed pretty similar to the House of Night series for one), favourite of the male teacher who she and all the girls have a crush on (again, House of Night, also Divergent). Alina as a character got completely lost at this point. Where she had started as quiet but feisty, she suddenly became completely insecure and as she spent pages describing how little she thought of herself, I found my opinion of her going down too. But I hate giving up on books so I continued to read, particularly tempted by the front cover which promises "A dark heart. A pure soul. A love that will last forever.", hoping that perhaps there would be an incredible romance between the Darkling and Alina beneath the main plot. Sadly all the claims for romance on the cover are over-hyped, so don't pick this up expecting an enchanting love story.

The other problem for me was the villain of the story. It was a twist that I saw coming and that left me feeling incredibly disappointed because it was far too easy to make this person the villain. For me it would have been a greater story if the villain had been someone far more unexpected, perhaps someone cleverly crafted into the background of the story. Even worse was Alina's confrontation with the villain, where said villain had a typical maniacal moment where they divulged their plan and chided the hero (Alina in this case) for believing them. The villain was probably my biggest problem with this book, and its thanks to that plot device that I even have to ask the following question: will I be reading the sequel? The answer, I'm afraid to say, is probably not.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gathering Dark, 19 Feb 2013
This review is from: The Gathering Dark: The Grisha 1 (Paperback)
Alina is a pale, lonely, orphan who, with her best friend Mal, are journeying across the shadow fold, a dangerous, impenetrable darkness that has separated Ravka in half. However, when disaster strikes Alina discovers she is a Grisha, but she has a unique power that could be the key for setting Ravka Free. But can Alina ever forget her best friend and person she has always loved, Mal or will she be seduced by The Darkling's allure and power.

The Gathering Dark is a magnificent YA fantasy book which makes you want to carry on reading to find out what happens next. This book has adventure, romance, magic and a storyline that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

I really like Alina as she is strong but does not realise it and also feels like she does not belong anywhere which I think most people can identify with. I also like Mal as he is strong and cocky but is also sweet, however, I wish there as more of him in this book.

However my favourite character has to be The Darkling as he is such a complex person and I could not guess what he was going to do next. I really liked the magic in this book and also how it was set in a Russian inspired world and not the usual medieval Europe setting.

The Gathering Dark is an amazing Young Adult fantasy novel and I cannot wait to read the next book in the Grisha series. I would recommend this to people enjoy reading the Black Magician's trilogy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good fantasy novel, 20 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Gathering Dark: The Grisha 1 (Paperback)
I would have given this four stars, because I really like the pace of the story, the writing and some of the characters. However, there was a certain sense of predictability that did not favor it.
Pros:
- good story
- entrancing plot
- captivating characters such as the darkling
Cons:
- the Darkling - I thought it was a little obvious the guy was up to no good
- Mal's and Alina's story - I confess I was not such a big fan of Mal at the beginning and had a little trouble accepting how they came to be a couple.
Overall, it's a good and solid 3.5 rating to me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grisha book 1, 16 Oct 2012
By 
Sarah (Feeling Fictional) (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Gathering Dark: The Grisha 1 (Paperback)
I read The Gathering Dark (otherwise known as Shadow and Bone if you're in the US) a month ago and I still can't get the story out of my head. Leigh Bardugo's debut novel had me captivated from the very first page and I didn't want to put it down for a second. This is without a doubt one of my favourite books of the year and bearing in mind that I've read over 300 books since January that is high praise indeed. I loved the world that the author has created, the Russian influence to the story adds depth to the world building and I loved the magical abilities of the Grisha.

Alina was the kind of heroine I found it easy to relate to, raised in an orphanage with only her best friend Mal to rely on she has never fully felt like she fitted in anywhere. All she really wants is to find a place where she belongs but when it is discovered she has a rare magical ability she finds herself taken away from everyone and everything she knows. Thrust into a new life amongst the Grisha Alina feels lost and alone, she doesn't understand the rules and is struggling to make sense of her power and how to harness it. Thankfully she makes a new friend in Genya but she misses Mal more than anything and is hurt when he doesn't reply to her letters. Her powers have drawn the attentions of the Darkling, the enigmatic leader of the Grisha and most powerful magic user in the kingdom of Ravka. Their country is torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a dark and desolate place where monsters rule and no human is safe, and the Darkling thinks that Alina could be the one person who can save them all.

I don't want to say too much more about the story line because I would hate to give you spoilers, this is the kind of book that you're best of picking up without knowing too much about so that you can thoroughly enjoy the journey you are taken on. I'm going to tell you that I loved Alina, the way she grows up as the story progresses and the strong young woman she has become by the end. I loved her friendship with Mal, the history they had together and the way they always look out for each other. I adored Mal, he has a quiet strength about him and proves himself a wonderful support to Alina. I also loved the Darkling, he was mysterious and secretive and I never knew quite what was going to happen around him but he has an appeal that is hard to resist.

The Gathering Dark is the kind of book that I wish I could wipe from my memory just so I could have the pleasure of reading it again for the first time. The pacing was perfect - a fast paced beginning to get you hooked, a beautifully written middle with layers of world building and character development followed by an explosive ending with plot twists that will make your jaw drop. I honestly can't recommend this book highly enough to fantasy fans so please ignore my gushing and read the book for yourself to discover just how amazing it is. I can't wait to read the next instalment - I'm just gutted that I have to wait a whole year to find out what happens next!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't get the hype.., 22 Jun 2012
By 
Josef Cruz (TACOMA, WA, US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Gathering Dark: The Grisha 1 (Paperback)
Also posted at: [...]

Gorgeous cover? Check. The monstrous hype? Check. Slave girl turned a saint with powers? Check. Love interest who's also the best friend? Check. <-- Do you see? All these signs point that I will love, no, DEVOUR this book..... Argh. Imagine my disappointed when it failed to wow me. *cries*

I never really connected with the main character Alina. Sure, she wasn't whiny, or needy, but there was something about her that I didn't like. Meh. There were also times when I thought that Alina was trying too hard. Like Bardugo was trying too hard (and failing) to make her heroine more kick-ass. As if we don't already have enough of that in the YA genre. (Don't get me wrong, I love all the Katniss, the Tris, the Rose, but this one just wasn't working for me.)

The romance was also something that I wasn't really happy about. In the beginning, it was amazing, but since the love interest didn't show up again until near the end, it didn't left time for his character to develop fully, and the transition to them being best friends to lovers was something that I found too quick. (That's not a spoiler by the way - it's blatantly pointed out in the summary)

So. The names. And places. And terms. And basically everything else. Jeez. What I really loathe in fantasy novels, is when the author introduces so many new word terms and places and stuff that I just found myself so overwhelmed and not knowing what the fudge is going on or what it is. Seriously. I gave up trying to understand, so I just went along. One of my biggest book peeves ever.

The twist near the end was definitely something that I loved and one of the many things that I gave this two butterflies instead of one. If that thing didn't happen, then this would have a fail plastered all over it. I'm not sure if I will read the sequel, maybe..but just because of the fascinating antagonist, but I sure won't be dying for it.
Overall, if you like fantasy and a little something different, then Shadow and Bone would suit you. I, on the other hand, enjoy kissing and contemporary a lot more. :P

Note: I KNOW so many people who had loved this book, so I am a bit sad that I didn't :(
Also, I read this before Throne of Glass (which I LOVED and is one of my favourites this year so far), and so even though I didn't like this, I would recommend people to read it and Throne of Glass (Sarah J. Maas), too!
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The Gathering Dark: The Grisha 1
The Gathering Dark: The Grisha 1 by Leigh Bardugo (Paperback - 17 May 2012)
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