Sunday, 17 June 2012

Review: The Gathering Dark by Leigh Bardugo

Title: The Gathering Dark (US title Shadow and Bone)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Author Info: Website|Blog|Twitter|Facebook
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Format: UK Proof
Publication Date: USA:June 5th 2012|UK:7th June 2012

Tell Me About It
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?

My Thoughts
From the moment I heard about The Gathering Dark I thought it sounded really interesting and was excited to make a start on it.
Alina and Mal are friends who both live in an orphanage together.  The Grisha pay a visit to test them for skills in Small Science, if they pass they will be taken to Grisha school and learn how to use their talents.  The next time we see this dynamic pair, Mal is a soldier and Alina is a cartographer.  As they journey across the Shadow Fold we soon learn that things are not as they seem and both Alina's and Mal's lives will never be the same again.

I absolutely fell in love with The Gathering Dark from the moment I opened the pages.  I love the world Leigh has created,with all the different types of Grisha abilities: Etherealnik, Inferni, Tidemakers, Summoner, Heartrender, Fabrikator and Squallers and the different lands and people.
I loved the protagonist, Alina.  Having lived a life where nothing was easy but still managing to find a way to carry one made Alina that much more 'human' rather than an 'character'.  She was so easy to like and relate to and by the time I reached the last pages I was so emotionally invested in this character that I don't want to see it end.  I liked how she is true and honest and wants to do what it right for others, and not just for herself.  I felt sorry for her having to deal with the new information without having the familiar face of Mal nearby, but I am glad she found a friend in Genya.  I really like the concept behind the gloves that were made for Alina by a Fabrikator, and they come in handy on a few occasions.  The gloves combined with her training help her beat up a robber and she is so happy for herself, I couldn't help but cheer along with her.  Mal is a character that doesn't feature as heavily as Alina does, but he is always lurking in the background, and when he finally joins Alina I love the chemistry between them both.  The unrequited love made their friendship that much more sweeter.

As more characters are introduced two of them stood out to me.  Apparat was a person who I instantly didn't trust.  Whenever her features in the chapters I got a creepy feeling about him and deep down inside I knew he was up to no good.  Darkling was another character that stood out.  I could never decide whether her was a good guy, or a bad guy, and after finishing The Gathering Dark my mind is made up, but I am not going to tell you which one he is.

I really enjoyed the last few chapters, and although I did not want The Gathering Dark to end I am looking forward to seeing what happens next.  A small part of the book that I loved and actually made me sigh due to the romantic gesture of it is below, but so as not to spoil it I am not telling you who actually said it.
"I'm sorry it took me so long to see you Alina. But I see you now."

If you check out Leigh's blog (link is above) you get to see some maps that were made for the limited amount of signed books that were available to buy.  Below is a map of the world Leigh has created, just click to make it bigger.

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