Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: July 2012 (AUS/UK) | June 5th 2012 (US)
Publisher: Indigo (AUS/UK) | Henry, Holt and Co. (US)
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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?
Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.
She's taken to the royal court where she's to hone her abilities. Surrounded by Grisha - men and woman blessed with supernatural talents - Alina is now one of them, but she doesn't feel it. She struggles in the beginning to fit in, to break through the barrier blocking her powers. She was a character I found really easy to like. She made mistakes, has plenty of flaws, but what I love is that she learns from her errors. Character growth, I adore! She can be shy, yet so strong in spirit. Brave, but sometimes naive. She was balanced and relatable, and showed clear change by the end of the novel. I think things are going to get a WHOLE lot messier and complicated for her as the series goes on, particularly with what happened at the end...
The Darkling. He consumed this book (hell, he consumed me). Whether he's on the page or not, he still leaves a lingering trace of darkness so you won't, you can't forget he is still there, waiting in the shadows. He is a fascinating character, with frighteningly delicious appeal. I'm equal parts attracted and horrified. Just like Alina, I couldn't help but fall prey to his dark seduction. Power is both an attractive and intimidating thing and The Darkling is all about power. There are moments throughout the novel where Bardugo has you doubting, or hooks you in so completely that there is no doubt... but still, you're SO EFFING UNSURE. And this is probably all vague, but I don't want to spoil anything! I just love that I still don't know with him, that he's playing on my mind days after I've finished. The Darkling had this ability to pull at both the light and dark within me. I wanted to know how human he really was, yet there was a part of me that also wanted to see just how bad he could go.
MAL. Oh, Mal. Bardugo excels at making you believe one thing and then grabbing your heart with her icy hands and twisting it 180 degrees clockwise. Initially, I wasn't overly impressed with Mal. I liked him, no doubt, but was I waving his team banner? You mean while The Darkling pierced me with those cool gray eyes? Hell no. I was entirely on Team Darkling for much of the novel... Until. Mal showed his true colours and CUE THE SWOON, READERS. This beautiful, loyal, brave, intelligent, sweet boy is the polar opposite of The Darkling. He's so... so... NORMAL. In that heartwarming, I-want-to-snuggle-by-his-side-forever kind of way. I never should have doubted you, Mal, and no amount of apologies will ever be enough. I am holding my breath and hoping, wishing, praying that Mal and Alina have a happy ending by the end of the series because when they are together, there is no competition, not even from The Darkling. But if they don't... Mal can come live his happy ending with me?
Yet, despite my unwavering love for Mal, there is still a dark cloud hovering over me and I can't help but shiver in excitement when it whispers promises of changing the world. Mal stole my heart, but The Darkling branded my soul. Perhaps the soul is worth more than the heart, but when that brand is as dark as The Shadow Fold, I'm not entirely sure if it's a good thing...
Those teenage boys in fiction who are loose with their words and their pants, who send so many into a flutter with their bad, bad ways, know nothing of what it is to truly walk the dark side. Hands down, The Gathering Dark wins the award for having the best villain. A villain you despise and fear is worthy indeed, but a villain you despise, fear.... and yet can't stay away from? The one that has hold of your heart and can reign it in at any time he pleases? That is the scariest kind.
Bardugo has brought a wonderfully entertaining Russian-inspired world to life with magic and power, seduction and love, and brilliantly crossed the lines of light and dark in one gut-wrenching moment that knocked my heart out of alignment. The Gathering Dark will bring about a whole mess of conflicting emotions and despite how much it made me rip out my hair in the last quarter, I GODDAMN LOVE IT.
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