The Gathering Dark (Grisha #1) – Leigh Bardugo

“The servants called them malenchki, little ghosts, because they were the smallest and the youngest, and because they haunted the Duke’s house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.”
Alina has spent her live in Ravka, growing up in an orphanage then becoming part of the kings army she has always been close to Mal, another orphan boy. But one day the army are crossing The Fold, a swathe of darkness full of monsters – Volcra – that feed on human flesh and is slowly destroying the land. On their trip the Volcra swoop in to attack and Mal gets hurt, but before the monsters manage to grab Mal and Alina, Alina releases a power she never knew existed. She is presented to The Darkling, the leader of The Grisha’s to develop her powers as she is believed to be the one to recuse Ravka from its misery, but is she really? 

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I’ve been seeing great reviews of this book for a while on US blogs, it goes by a different name, Shadow and Bone, over there so I’ll call it Grisha in this review which is its international title. All I can say is that I’m often wary of high fantasy type books, and this was no exception, but once I started reading, wow, I was swept away across the lands and fighting Alina’s battle alongside her. 
Grisha is a fantasy and becuase of this there are lots of words and ideas that I had never come across before. I liked that there was a little list included at the very beginning of the book to help me remember the ranks of the Grishas because later on it the book this really helped. The whole world was new but the way it was decribed kept it familar and not too out-there for me which was good. I kept thinking that the land must have been based on Russia or somewhere like that because of the language used but this was never really confirmed, so it was maybe just my brain thinking that. 
Anyway, I’m getting off track. The story was amazing, there was a lot of aventure and a lot of Alina not knowing what was going on. The back of the book I have (which is a ARC) hails this book as ‘Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.’ which had me intrigued but to be perfectly honest, the romance doesnt feature all that much, which I found a plus point. Alina has got a thing for Mal but its very close to what you’d feel for a best friend and he could have easily been that than a love interest at the beginning and middle of the book. The ‘romance’ element between Alina and The Darkling was interesting but it wasn’t a huge thing and I really liked the way it was done too. I definitely agree with the other words used to describe the book more and it really was irresistible, I couldnt put it down! 
Alina is struggling at first and that makes up a lot of the beginning of the story. She has this gift but doesnt know how to use it. I was really impressed with the way that worked out and how she came to realise her power. Once realised the story took another turn and other things opened up which made the second half of the book even more epically amazing for me than the first!! 
US cover

I’m not going to lie and say that Grisha is an easy book to read. Its hard going in places because there are a lot of words that you’ll never have come across before and it is quite fantasy filled. However it reminded me of why I love fantasies and how amazing it is when characters can shoot flames from their hands or kill someone with a single touch. Its not a nice world but its a seriously amazing one and once the confusion clears as to which Grisha’s are which and what they each do its a fascinating world to be in. Leigh Bardugo’s writing takes you on a journey which I couldn’t move away from and I cannot wait to jump back on board when the next book in this trilogy comes out! 
The Gathering Dark/ Shadow and Bone is the first in the Grisha Trilogy and was published on May 17th by Indigo. My copy was sent in exchange for an honest review from the publisher. 
  • M

    Great review, Raimy. It’s lovely when you read a book that you’re not sure is going to be your thing – and then you enjoy it overall. The fact that the romance is less than the hype makes out means I might look out for it too 🙂

  • Aw I’m glad you enjoyed this, I also thought it was a fantastic book! lots of twists and a few ‘didnt see that coming’ kind of moments – great review 🙂

  • Lovely review Raimy. I am looking forward to this one.

  • i think it’s like a lot of adult epic fantasy and that it will develop more over the trilogy. There was a lot of potential in the world for me but didn’t quite go into enough depth into any one part. Will be interested to see how in pans out in book 2.

  • Great review! I’ve heard nothing but positives for this book, and I’m super excited to read it – I’m actually getting to meet Leigh Bardugo tomorrow night at an event where I’ll pick up the book, and I can’t wait to get into it. And thank you for mentioning that it’s not an easy read to get into because of the wording and the fantasy element – I was curious about it since I don’t normally read fantasy (contemporary is more my thing), but was thinking maybe I was overreacting since nobody had said anything. But I’m glad to go into it a little more prepared!

  • I have heard amazing things about this book and can’t wait to give it a read!

  • Hearing a lot about this book. I must get my hands on it and give it a read.
    Brill review!!

  • I got the idea it was Russia or Eastern Europe too… I love how with fantasy it could be anywhere. Great review!