Book Review

Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo.

RuinAndRisingThe capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

This is the third book in the Grisha trilogy, I reviewed the second book Siege and Storm here. This is not going to be the longest or most detailed review – being the final part of a triolgy a lot of the book is action filled or just needs to be discovered by the reader for themselves. I went into this book knowing barely anything about it and was pleased I did, I don’t want to stop anyone else having the same experience.

Ruin and Rising opens with a prologue that sets the scene really well, before jumping back to show us where our main characters now are. The book begins just a little after the end of Siege and Storm allowing the characters to gather themselves a little – I felt that this played out well, it was close enough that I didn’t feel like I’d missed seeing anything I’d have wanted to see but moved on enough that the plot could get going again quickly. It had been nearly a year since I’d last visited the world of the Grisha, I was pleased with how easy it was to fall back into it. There are some really big plot elements that need to be concluded, these are all dealt with over the course of the book with only minimal new significant plot elements introduced. I liked this, and was almost always pleased with how things played out.

One of the central elements of this book is the relationship between Alina, our heroine, and various other characters. Since getting to the end of this book I’ve discovered quite a lot of readers are unhappy with how some of these relationships worked out – I have to say that I personally don’t agree with these readers. I think it’s really interesting that lots of people can read the same series and all take something completely different from it, it’s impossible to say that any way of thinking is right or wrong – it’s such an individual thing. All I can say for sure is that I was very content with the way the various relationships were resolved, it worked absolutely right for me.

The world that Leigh Bardugo has created for this trilogy is an interesting, rich one. I loved getting to know more and more about it with each book. I’m really pleased that her next pair of books are going to be set in the same world (see the story here), I certainly want to spend more time there!

Ruin and Rising is published by Indigo in the UK. My copy of the book is one I purchased myself.

Book Review

Recent Reads: The Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin and Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo.

A round up of some of the books I’ve recently read. These books are both the second in series, there will be spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read the first books.

imageThe Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin. Indigo.
Bethany Griffin continues the journey of Araby Worth in Dance of the Red Death—the sequel to her teen novel Masque of the Red Death.

In Dance of the Red Death, Araby’s world is in shambles—betrayal, death, disease, and evil forces surround her. She has no one to trust. But she finds herself and discovers that she will fight for the people she loves, and for her city.

Her revenge will take place at the menacing masked ball, though it could destroy her and everyone she loves…or it could turn her into a hero.

With a nod to Edgar Allan Poe, Bethany Griffin concludes her tragic and mysterious Red Death series with a heroine that young adult readers will never forget.

This is the second half of the duology that began with The Masque of the Red Death, a book that I really enjoyed. I was really pleased to see that it picks up the story immediately from the end of the first book, this worked well both to grab my attention and to pull me back into Araby’s world.

I found that even though it was about a year since I had read the first book I very quickly remembered who everyone was and how the world worked. Griffin wove reminders neatly into the text so that I never felt like information was there purely to recap the first book. I know that this is always a challenge with sequels, I personally feel this could be held up as an example of it being done well.

There’s plenty of action in this book, but I particularly loved the quieter moments nestled in between the big scenes. Spending time with the characters, seeing their quiet interactions, made me really feel connected to them, and invested in their story. I was going to list a couple of examples, but even now as I start to think there are too many to include.

I was really satisfied with the conclusion to the story. It’s neat without feeling too neat, there’s no magic wand waving, no pretty ribbons and bows, just a believable ending with hope.

imageSiege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. Indigo.
Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.(less)

I have to start this by admitting to being a bit of an idiot. This is the second book in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, I adored the first book Shadow and Bone and so put off reading this sequel for a while – scared it wouldn’t live up to my hopes. I was, naturally, entirely wrong and my hopes were entirely satisfied.

The book picks up the story a short while after the events at the end of Shadow and Bone, there’s a brief bit of breathing space to allow the reader to reconnect with Alina and Mal before the tension and action ramps up again. This then continued throughout the book, big bit of action followed by time to regroup before the next big action. I really liked this, it built a real sense that there was something big coming.

I liked the way Alina and Mal’s story and relationship develops throughout the book, it continues to be challenging for the two characters – something I don’t feel I get to read enough of in books. It was really nice to see characters from the first book revisited and developed alongside the introduction of new characters. There are three significant new characters, I loved them all and was really glad to get to know them – the intriguing Sturmhond most of all.

When the aforementioned something big does play out it’s brilliant, and thrilling, and entirely compulsive reading. I was so gripped by it that I read it far too quickly and then went back and read it again at a sensible pace so I could take every last detail in.

I’m so excited for the third and final Grisha book, this time I will be dropping everything to read it as soon as I have a copy in my hands.