7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Grisha book 1,
This review is from: Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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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!