Friday, July 20, 2012

Review: The Gathering Dark by Leigh Bardugo


Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: July 2012 (AUS/UK) | June 5th 2012 (US)
Publisher: Indigo (AUS/UK) | Henry, Holt and Co. (US)
Add it: Goodreads
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.

Alina Starkov is an orphan. She's scrawny, plain, an apprentice mapmaker and has been pining for her best friend, who's too busy chasing the skirts of other girls to truly notice the one who's been by his side since childhood. After a journey into the deadly Shadow Fold, a terrifying stretch of pure darkness where monstrous creatures known as Volcra fly the skies, Alina discovers a power within her that could be the saving grace Ravka needs. Powers both rare and which compliment those of the formidable Darkling. Together, they can destroy the Shadow Fold that has brought devastation to their world for so long. But Alina begins to learn that unleashing the true potential of her gifts is not as black and white as it seems.

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.

5/5 Golden Apples!

Add it: Goodreads

33 comments:

  1. Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one Brodie! I've been eagerly waiting for your review ever since you told me you got this one, so I am thrilled by how much you loved it! :D I was so torn over The Darkling and Mal as well while reading this book. At first, like you, I was Team Darkling all the way and didn't care too much for Mal, but then once Mal captured my heart, The Darkling was still on my mind! I can't wait to see what direction the book takes in the sequel although I also really hope it doesn't fall prey to The Dreaded Love Triangle. I don't think I'd be able to choose! Personally, I think The Darkling really does have feelings for Alina but his evil side might win out until the Epic Battle in Book 3 where Alina takes advantage of his love for her and exploits him. Then again, Bardugo has a habit of taking exactly what I think is going to happen and turning it around so I'm left utterly surprised by her books, so I'm really excited for the sequel! ;) Fantastic review Brodie! :D

    ~Keertana
    Ivy Book Bindings

    P.S. - Out of curiosity, which title do you like better? Gathering Dark or Shadow and Bone? I can't decide although I prefer the unique look of the Shadow and Bone cover!(:

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    1. Thank you for the wonderful comment, Keertana! I'm screaming YES to everything you've written! I really, really was not expecting to fall for Mal like I did. But.... damn things CHANGE! I think (or like to believe) that the Darkling has feelings for her too, but there's no denying he IS bad. And I kinda LOVE that, you know? So often the 'bad boy' in fiction is really a massive softie at heart who just has a bad reputation. And I totally fall for those guys while reading, but there's something darkly refreshing about The Darkling's situation.

      I am SO excited for the coming books and also to see how things affect Alina... don't want to be too spoilery here, but you know what I'm talking about with her powers toward the end?

      I can't decide on the title either! I love how they both reflect on the story, aswell as the covers. I actually think I prefer the AUS/UK one, so gorgeous, but Shadow and Bone SO has that unique look that immediately captivates me.

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  2. ADJHFADJFAGH. BRODIE. NO YOU MORE POST REVIEWS THIS AMAZING WHEN I CAN'T STOP TO READ THE BOOK NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOOOOOOOW *SOBS*

    Seriously, my brain has gone into not working mode. All it is capabale of right now is DarklingDarklingDarklingDarklingDarklingDarklingmustmeetDarkling.

    BRODIE. I CAN HAS YOUR BRAIN? I shall use it write the most deliciousest reviews. YES? :D

    BUT WAIT... SO IS THE DARKLING THE VILLAIN? HUHUH? *IS CURIOUS*

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    1. SAAAAAAAAAARAAAHHH. Oh goodness, I can't wait for you to read this!! Ze fingers are all crisscrossed and bent backwards in hopes that you love it too. The Darkling.... er... um... well. IT'S COMPLICATED, OKAY? You'll see :D

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  3. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE BRODIE! I SO LOVED THE GATHERING DARK! When I finished this book, I couldn't stop thinking about it. It's SO FANTASTIC! Leigh Bardugo's story is so enchanting it felt like I stepped into a world of fairytale. AND SQUEEE BRODIE! THE DARKLING From the very first moment I met The Darkling, I completely fell in love with him. I didn't quite liked Mal in the beginning, but he grew on me and ALJASDLJAFSDF how am I supposed to choose between these 2 boys? but ALAS, I still can't forget my 'first love' so YES, TEAM DARKLING IT IS FOR ME! And like you said as well, he always leaves a lingering trace of darkness even though he's not on the page and HE CONSUMED ME too! XP

    GAH, I need the sequel SO BADLY, Brodie! I WANT MORE DARKLING IN THE NEXT BOOK PLEASE!

    FANTASTIC review, Brodie! ♥

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    1. CELINE! YES. I'm STILL thinking about the book, trying to get a hold of the confusing emotions I'm feeling. IT'S SO HARD TO CHOOSE. I just....I don't even KNOW if I can say I'm on a "team" exactly. I want Alina and Mal together, but I WANT The Darkling around (and yet I DON'T, in sme ways), because he's... guh. I love what Bardugo has done to us :D

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  4. Awesome review! I am sooooo hot for The Darkling! Sexy++++

    Seriously though, I think this is the BEST high fantasy since Graceling, and possibly my favorite book of 2012. It's brilliant!

    Karis @ YA Litwit

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    1. Hehe! The Darkling does things to us.... I'm not entirely sure if it's healthy, but damn, it's enjoyable :D

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  5. I'M SO HAPPY YOU LOVED THIS BRODIE! I ADORED IT ALL SO MUCH! Fantastic review! Agree 100% with you! The Darkling . . . Mal . . . why must they be so hot?!?!

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    1. THANK YOU, ERIN! I knew after hearing you loved this so effing much that I would too. It really lived up to the amazing hype. I can't remember the last time a book had me so torn over the 'love interests' and for COMPLETELY separate reasons.

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  6. This was such a fun read for me as well! The world-building was fantastic! I want book two. NOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!!!! :) No? What if I say please?

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    1. What is I say pretty, pretty please or I'll use the effing Cut on you?! Oh... okay. Um. Yes. I see. Report me. Authorities. Don't threaten. Lowly reader. Godly publisher. OKAY. I'm SORRY.

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  7. ONE STOLE YOUR HEART AND THE OTHER BRANDED YOUR SOUL!?!? HSDUASIDHSUIADHSAIHDSAID I'M DEFINITELY GOING TO READ THIS SOON! BAHAHAHHAAA Dudeeeee, you sound like you're still undecided over Mal and The Darkling! (btw, The Darkling reminds me of Dementors for some reason :S) Oh and if I fail my exams, you're responsible :) I'll probably start reading this right away...or maybe after Losing Lila! heheheeee

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    1. I AM, SHIRLEY, I AM SO UNDECIDED. SORT OF. A LITTLE. I DON'T EFFING KNOW. Do I want The Darkling with Alina? NO.

      I mean, not really.

      SJDHFSNDFVJSDKC. NO. No. NO. But it's a ... NO, BRODIE.

      MAL.

      Really, Mal and Alina are just... perfection <3 But damn, The Darkling does thinnnnggggsss to me. LOL, he is nothing like the Dementors. Dementors are not sexy ;) Eeee, I'm reading Losing Lila now! LOVE.

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  8. I have been gushing non-stop about this book to anyone who will listen. From beginning to end I was in a mental state of "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and it didn't let up once. It's been a few weeks since I read it and I am STILL reeling and I don't think that will change anytime soon. These characters and this world were just so amazing and...THE DARKLING. He gets a mention of his own. Oh my, his character was such a roller coaster and I will gladly go on that ride again (ahahaha...this sounds so pervy). Mal is great, and I completely support him with Alina, but I just need more of the Darkling in my life -- not even with her since I'm not even sure where his character is going or if I want him to be redeemed. Just...MORE DARKLING.

    WHEN CAN WE GET BOOK TWO?!

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    1. I think !!!!!!! pretty much sums up exactly what I'm feeling right now too. These are the kind of books that I love so much, the ones that I can't get out of my head, the ones that keep playing over and over again. The ones that I'm DAMN impatient to have the sequel for!

      Hahahaha I will gladly ride The Darkling aga- I mean... ride.. the... ride he took us on :P

      I'm totally with you. I DEMAND MORE DARKLING. I'm expecting lots of his delicious self littering the pages of book 2 <3

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  9. WHY DO I WANT TO READ THIS SO MUCH NOW?! BUT WHY DO I EVEN WHEN ALL YOU TALK ABOUT IS THIS MAL AND THIS DARKLING. WHY? Why, seriously?

    Hype hasn’t been kind to me lately... But I hope The Gathering Dark will not follow that path and be as great as I’ve been hearing. Sadly, I read a few reviews on GR talking about the poor execution in the Russian words used and research - maybe I won’t take notice since I’m not Russian (though Erin, above, is.... hmmm).

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    1. Buahahaha, you've been around girl bloggers too long, Braiden. We're tearing down your manly walls with our gushings over fictional guys :P

      I've been feeling hype letdown too lately (especially with my last read), so I understand what you mean. I really, really hope this lives up to expectations for you. I can't comment on the Russian stuff, because hell if I know anything apart from what Alexandra Udinov teaches me :P Can't wait to see what you think!

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  10. Oooh, Brodie! I was excited about this book, but now... oh my god! I NEEDS TO READ THIS NOW! But I can't! I have like four books I was already eager to read, and now this! GHREIGREOHR! This reading malarky is hard sometimes! :P

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    1. Haha I SO know how you feel. I read incredible reviews from other bloggers that have me desperate to read a book, but I have a doze morein front of it on my TBR *sigh* I can't wait for you to read this, though!!

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  11. Woo, well I'm definitely add this one to my list. Do I want to be conflicted, heck yes! I can't help that I love bad boys in fiction...I suppose that's better than chasing after real bad boys haha. Thanks for the review ;)

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    1. Hahaha EXACTLY. I'm so not into the 'bad boy' in real life, but in fiction? Damn, I'm all over them ;) I suspect The Darkling will definitely cater to your wildside needs!!

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  12. Okay, I keep seeing raving reviews for this. It sounds AMAZING. The villain? That's the kind of villain I LOVE. I need to read this. So much. WHY DO I NOT OWN THIS BOOK? Great review, Brodie. Hopefully this will be the next book I buy!

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    1. LIZ. I WANT YOU TO MEET THE DARKLING (I feel like his name is on a repeat loop every time I mention this book haha). You def NEED to get your hands on a copy. I'm insanely curious to see if you'll like it!

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  13. Oh man. I've never wanted to marry a review before. But THIS. BRODIE!!
    You said it all PERFECTLY. The Darkling... oh that guy. I can't even find the words to sum up my feelings towards him but they sure are complicated. Mal has completely claimed my heart though. I am forever TEAM MAL and nothing can change that. I definitely want to snuggle by his side forever! If Alina some how lets him go, I will jump straight in there! ;) I'm so glad you liked it! Fantastic review! :)

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    1. Awww geez *blushes* thank you, Sam!! <3

      I absolutely love how the Darkling has screwed with every freaking reader of this book. Isn't that WHY we read? To have characters dig deep and affect us in these kind of ways? Oh, Mal. I LOVE HIM. He's the guy you want forever, while the Darkling is the one that... I don't even know. It's fascination. A thrill. The one that calls to your dark side, but Mal embodies everything this is good <3

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  14. Wonderful review! I have been looking forward to reading this and after your review I will definitely have to pick it up :) <3

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    1. Yay!! I'm really looking forward to seeing what you think when you get a copy *stalks* YOU WILL LOVE IT :D

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  15. Well now I have to read this just so I can meet Mal! I really haven't wanted to read this but the fact that the villain is actually bad yet alluring has me very, very intrigued!

    Fab review, Brodie :)

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    1. Oooh so Mal has caught your immediate attention! I like this. Mal deserves it. I love how he took time to warm to me, I honestly wasn't quite expecting for him to woo me the way he did. The Darkling is... guh. Very bad. Very alluring. This is terrible mix haha.

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  16. YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES <33333333333333333333333

    You said it so PERFECTLY, Brodie! I was so obsessed with The Darkling when I was reading ("when is the Darkling coming back? when was the last time he made an appearance? SOMEONE BRING HIM TO ME") and while that kind of transformed partially into a horrified fascination, the obsession never quite went away.

    But then MAL. WOOOO, where did that boy come from?! I was all indifferent thinking that Alina didn't need him anyway, hmph, but then he comes and is all sweet and genuine and just 100% perfect for Alina. It's like Rose/Dimitri levels of perfect matching all over again.

    So yeah. Basically, I'm going to marry this book. And you. Not necessarily in that order ;)

    Sonia

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  17. I'm glad to hear that this one is seriously awesome! I recently picked it up because I've heard so many good things about it. I'm really excited to read it! Thanks so much for the review. :)

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  18. 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.

    Mariz
    Get Best Info for Alaska Fishing Lodge Sitka AK

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