Published: 7th June 2012
Source: Library copy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Gathering Dark (Shadow and Bone) is a book that almost passed me by. The Shadow and Bone cover didn't attract my attention and the blurb didn't appeal to me at all. But when great review after great review kept coming, I began to wonder what I was missing out on. And I was missing out. This is a fantastic fantasy story.
Alina and Mal grew up together in an orphanage and are best friends, but lately, Alina's been starting to feel something more. Mal is a tracker in the first army and Alina is a cartographer or map maker.
When, after saving Mal's life, she finds herself being brought in front of the Darkling, the most powerful Grisha in Ravka, life as she knows it is about to change. She is ordered to the Little Palace under armed guard, without getting a chance to say goodbye to Mal.
She discovers she has powers she wasn't aware of. When she was only eight years old, so that she wouldn't be taken away from Mal. But now, it has opened up a whole new world for her. She's part of the Grisha. And she may be the answer to Ravka's biggest problem, The Shadow Fold, a patch of complete darkness, where the volcra lurk, waiting to feed on the human flesh of those trying to travel to West Ravka. She is their salvation, but she is also in danger of having her power abused.
Alina and Mal belong together, that much is obvious, but she seems to be drawn to the Darkling, the most powerful man in Ravka, and probably, the most feared and dangerous too. And as much as I loved Mal, I was also drawn to the Darkling. He's beautiful, powerful and mysterious, a very charming villain.
Alina is a tough character. Having grown up in an orphanage, and never feeling as though she belonged, has prepared her for when she finds herself among the Grisha, still not feeling like she belongs and finding herself acquiring the attentions of the Darkling. I loved the way she spoke to him, seemingly unable to hold her tongue despite any fear she might feel towards him.
We see two sides of Mal. The before Alina was taken away, a fun, humourous boy who was a bit of a ladies man. And after, he's hardened and more serious, circumstances of the last five months having taken effect. But, I felt we started to see a lighter side to Mal again towards the end.
At the beginning, I felt there was a lot to take in, with the different names and skills/ranks of the Grisha. But I used post its along the way and that kept me clued in. And after I'd finished reading the book, and checked out Sam's review, I discovered this pronunciation guide to Ravkan which would have come in handy while reading. Also, I couldn't get my head around the descriptions of the Kefta, so I went online to see what they looked like and discovered this awesome guest post over at Karin's Book Nook describing them perfectly.
I'm really glad that I eventually picked up this book as I really enjoyed the characters and the world that Leigh has created. If you haven't read it yet, do your best to pick it up soon. Book 2, Siege and Storm releases on the 4th June. I can't wait!
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