Published: 7th June 2012
Number of Pages: 320
Book: For Review*
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic, Romance, Action-Adventure, YA
Recommended Age: 12+
Contains: Violence, Death, Mild Swearing
No Alcohol, Drug References
Author's Blog: Leigh Bardugo
“I’ve been waiting for you for a long time, Alina,” he said. “You and I are going to change the world.”
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 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 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.
The Gathering Dark was a dark, rich, utterly compelling book that did not let me go from the very first word to the very last. I loved it, loved it, loved it, loved it!
More now please?
Ravka used to be a rich nation. Until the Shadow Fold was created, destroying their land, cutting them off from the rest of the world – to get desperately needed weapons and supplies, armies must cross the Shadow Fold, the Unsea, which is teeming with dreadful, man eating creatures.
Many of them never return.
Now Alina Starkov and her lifelong best friend Mal must make the voyage.
And from the moment they enter, the worst happens. One of Alina's friends is killed as the monsters attacks, and then one comes after Mal...
It's in that moment, the moment she saves Mal, that Alina's life changes beyond recognition.
She has a gift, one that could heal Ravka. One that intrigues The Darkling, the leader of the magical Grisha.
Can Alina face her startling feelings for the mysterious Darkling, her old love for Mal and maybe, just maybe, save her nation in the process?
Right from the start of this book, from the very first sentence, I knew I was going to adore The Gathering Dark! From the first chapter I knew this would be at least a 4 star novel. And it just got better and better and better. I adored everything about this book, from the world to the characters to the writing. And I'll tell you now, I'll be first in line when they start handing out Grisha powers - I want me a Kefta!
I just loved Alina from the moment I ‘met’ her! She was snarky, funny, strong and cheeky! I loved seeing how she grew as the book went on and how some of her cute reactions made me giggle! Mal was, quite frankly, my favourite! Cheeky, funny, cute, irresistible Mal who has officially been added to my Book Boyfriend list. One reason why you must love Mal so much it's insane? Just one little word: "always". Tryst ne, read the book and you'll get it. Mal. *sighs dreamily* The Darkling was one of those dark and dangerous guys that just intrigues you from the word go, a guy that was yummily intense. I probably shouldn't've gotten those little heart flutters whenever he walked in, but oh I did! I really do dare you all to read this and not feel That Pull. How the heck Bardugo managed to make that tug jump right off the page is beyond me, but she did. And it was amazing!
I loved how real and rich and padded out all of the characters were, and how the 'bad guy' was so different and intense and... wow. I just loved getting to know all the characters: beautiful, cheeky, funny Genya in particular! I even liked getting to know the mean characters, saying no names - Zoya-! But what really made this book was the relationship between Mal and Alina. Sure, the plot, world, writing, etc. were incredible, but the bond between Mal and Alina just pushed it head and shoulders above everything else.
Y’know, I love fantasy - let's face it, I'm constantly living in my own little fantasy world! But some of the hard-core fantasy worlds can give me a headache! Everything you need to learn and remember and have described to you - just ouch. The Gathering Dark, while being one of the most amazing fantastical worlds (see the map at the side), was just so light. Sure, there were things you need to remember at the beginning, but it's just so incredible and well described that it didn't feel like I was learning a whole new world at all. It felt like remembering an old one. It was just amazing; so rich and real and vivid and jump-off-of-the-page and unique. Plus, it was all old-time Russia – it was beautiful and just added to the fantasticalness of the world!
This book just sucked me in, and with such an epic, addictive plot, I couldn't put it down! It was fast paced and twisty and rich – it even made girl-finds-she-has-hidden-powers, love-triangle thing look new and exciting! Oh how I loved the plot! And, quite frankly, I need the next book! As for the writing: totally beautiful, but modern and funny. Everything was so wonderfully described so I could just see everything, but not heavy, not in the slightest. I really got into Alina’s head and loved seeing the Grisha world for the first time through her eyes.
While the world was breath-taking, the characters oh-so loveable and the writing amazing, this was just so much more than a fantasy novel. There were countless hidden themes and, unlike so many other hard-core fantasy novels, it was so human too. It may sound like cookie-cutter love triangle from the blurb, but it's so much more. Even though it isn't NOT a love triangle of sorts, it so doesn't read as one - it's just more, more, more than anything I'd thought it'd be. And oh how I loved it!
With a girl with a hidden gift - and not do hidden snark - one mysterious dark prince, one long-time best friend and a world to beat all others, The Gathering Dark was an addictive, beautiful, fantastical and so very human for a fantasy. I really can't recommend it enough. Fantasy addicts will adore it, old-timey Russian lovers will adore it. People who love strong characters and amazing relationships will adore it. Magic lovers will adore it. It has something for everyone - including two gorgeous guys... I loved every second and can honestly say this is one if my favourite books from 2012. And let me just say, the most gorgeous guys ever! A stunning, stunning debut from an author I just know will be huge in YA fiction.
Now, can I have the next one please, Leigh? I want to be Grisha again!
5 Out of 5
5 Out of 5
Read this book if you liked:
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Challenges It's Taking Part In:
* This book was received from Indigo in exchange for an honest review