The Bright and The Pale
by Jessica Rubinkowski
e-ARC, 368 pages
Expected publication: March 2nd 2021 by Quill Tree Books
Seventeen-year-old Valeria is one of the only survivors of the freeze, a dark magical hold Knnot Mountain unleashed over her village. Everyone, including her family, is trapped in an unbreakable sheet of ice. Ever since, she’s been on the run from the Czar, who is determined to imprison any who managed to escape. Valeria finds refuge with the Thieves Guild, doing odd jobs with her best friend Alik, the only piece of home she has left.
That is, until he is brutally murdered.
A year later, she discovers Alik is alive and being held against his will. To buy his freedom, she must lead a group of cutthroats and thieves on a perilous expedition to the very mountain that claimed her family. Only something sinister slumbers in the heart of Knnot.
And it has waited years for release.
CW: death of a family member, discrimination, childhood trauma, work camps
I received an eARC from publishers through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in anyway.
- The Bright and the Pale is pitched as the Grisha Trilogy met The Winternight trilogy and since those two are some of my favorite series, OF COURSE I had to immediately read it. I was super ecstatic when I got approved and immediately started with it.
- From the get go, I understand why this book is comped with those two series. Set in a Russian inspired world, this book is filled with snow and frost and the magic of sleeping, feuding brother Gods.
- It has a solid world building: we got a sense on the government, the daily lives of the commoners, the political situation within the kingdom, as well as the history and religion of the kingdom.
- The story focuses on Valeria, who is the only survivor of the Freeze, which literally freeze her whole town and killed the economy and influence of the kingdom. The kingdom fell into poverty and as the result, the people from the region is ostracized, considered as harbinger of destruction and put in prisons. Valeria was rescued by The Thief Guild, a secret spy society working for the kingdom and together with Alik, they work for the Guild to discover secrets for the king.
- From the start, we know that Valeria’s feelings toward Alik is so much more than friends. Their reunion was sweet, however I feel like the romance just doesn’t work for me. Maybe it’s just my bias against Mal from the Grisha trilogy, maybe it’s just Alik. As a love interest, Alik is better than Mal: he’s sweet towards Valeria, he loved her from the start and showed it to her. But he also constantly lies/hides things and didn’t try to understand Val’s point of view. There’s also the fact that both Val and Alik wishes for things to be the way they were for the other, but can’t believe the other person hoped the same for them 😅 Their anger and suspicions are understandable, but they’re not really willing to look from the other’s perspective.
- I love the concept of the belief system in the kingdom and later, the magic and the Gods. Unfortunately, we spent much of the book trudging through snow and forests, with weird cliche dreamscapes marking the nights. While it’s fast paced and doesn’t feel boring, the magic came up waaay to late for me to truly fell in love and appreciate the magical element.
- Overall, I can see why The Bright and The Pale is comped with those titles. While I find some of my expectations not met, I still enjoyed it nonetheless. It was fast paced, with strong world building, intriguing magic and explosive ending that makes me looking forward for its sequel!