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BOOK REVIEW: Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1) by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK REVIEW: Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1) by Leigh BardugoNinth House (Alex Stern #1)
by Leigh Bardugo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

If you were going to hell together, murder seemed like a good place to start.

When I say this book took my breath away, I truly mean it. It was thrilling and shocking and eerie and just a total surprise. As dark as the book was, I truly loved it and cannot wait for the next installment.

I had read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows series, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t absolutely love it. But I know how talented Leigh is, so when I saw she was writing an adult fantasy book based on secret societies and ghosts in New Haven, I was SO in. Talk about checking off a lot of boxes for me.

The book follows two main characters: Galaxy “Alex” Stern and Daniel “Darlington” Arlington. Both are students at Yale, but come from very different backgrounds. I don’t really want to spoil a lot of it, but Alex grew up in a not so great family and had some troubled teenage years that led to the death of some people, as well as the reason for her admittance to Yale and Lethe. Darlington, meanwhile, while not having a perfect childhood, did have some family and a more privileged upbringing. The two have far more in common than they think they do.

Alex gave a sharp shake of her head. “I mean tell me what I’m in for here…with you.”
That was the hard question to answer. Nothing. Everything. Lethe was meant to be a gift, but could it be to her? There was too much to tell.


Darlington is tasked with teaching Alex the ways of Lethe and its role to the other secret societies of Yale. However, something very dark and powerful is at play and it ultimately causes some dire consequences for both Darlington and Alex. On top of what they are dealing with in the present, there is a lot of trauma from their pasts, especial Alex’s, that comes into play.

Daniel Arlington prided himself on being prepared for anything, but if he’d had to choose a way to describe Alex Stern, it would have been “an unwelcome surprise.”

This book certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be very vivid in its descriptions at times, and there’s a ton of talk of death, dying and murder. There’s also a decent amount of mentions of drug and alcohol use, self-harm, unhealthy relationships and the big one, a very descriptive account of a sexual assault of a minor. It’s not overly long (I believe just a few pages) and could be easily skipped (it takes place in a bathroom on a school trip if that helps). It plays a large part into this character’s story, but I understand for some readers this kind of material is an absolute no-go. This has been discussed by a lot of other reviewers in the lead up to this book, but just want to make it very clear of the content in this book.

I’m in danger, she wanted to say. Someone hurt me and I don’t think they’re finished. Help me. But what good had that ever done?

I loved the mystery in this book. It was very layered and multi-faceted and loved how it blended the magical and real worlds. I didn’t guess the ending and am cautiously optimistic a *certain important character* will be making a return. I truly did not see that character exit coming or the circumstances surrounding it. It honestly broke my heart a little bit and hope there is a positive resolution to it.

I let you die. To save myself, I let you die.
That is the danger in keeping company with survivors.


Overall this was truly a five-star read for me. I certainly understand this book will not be for everyone: it’s very dark and has a lot of heavy topics and themes. However, I just loved the setting, the world-building and the characters. I can’t wait for what’s next and hope Bardugo continues to bounce back and forth between young adult and adult novels.

BOOK REVIEW: King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK REVIEW: King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) by Leigh BardugoKing of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1)
by Leigh Bardugo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads






Synopsis:

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

“Drüsje,” Birgir hissed. Witch. 
“I don’t like that word,” Nina said, advancing. “Call me Grisha. Call me zowa. Call me death, if you like.”

I literally have no idea how I’m going to review this. There I said it. This book was in my top five for new releases that I was DYING to get my hands on. I actually finished last night and honestly I’m a little torn on what to think. If I’m being completely honest, I’d say that I am even a tad ..disappointed(?) and that this book isn’t exactly what I thought it would be.

War hadn’t done it. Captivity. Torture. But loss was something different, because she saw no end to it, only the far horizon, stretching on and on.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing though! No, not at all. The main reason this is different than expected is because instead of this book being entirely about Nikolai, we have a whole side plot featuring Nina on a mission in Fjerda. I actually really enjoyed those chapters for the first half of the book…maybe even a little more than Nikolai’s which seems like a sin which I type it lol. I love Nina so much and I sobbed during *that* particular scene. View Spoiler ». I am very sure that her journey and mission will end up tying into Nikolai’s in the next book in a very big way, but overall for this one I was left confused as to why she had such a big and separate part when the book is literally called King of Scars. Again, I did enjoy her chapters and OBVIOUSLY her in general, just a little confused.

Because Zoya was not kind and she was not easy. But she was already a queen.

Side note before I continue on: I really think you need to read/ re-read all of her previous books before getting into this one. I haven’t read the Grisha series in a LONG time and there were a few things and characters that I had questions about because it had been so long. Like Zoya….all I really had remembered about her was that she and Alina didn’t get along at first and that she was very intense and could be harsh with her words. I actually really loved her arc in this book. Seriously. We got to learn a LOT more about her like her past, why she is the way that she is and it did not disappoint in any way. Also…thoughts on her with Nikolai? By the end I think I want them together…maybe???? Yes.

On the other hand with Nikolai…..who I felt like we didn’t get nearly enough of *sobs*. We did get his usual loveable/ dramatic/ dashing/ quippy self but..just not enough. I loved the scene at the end View Spoiler ».

Finally, speaking of that ending twist/reveal…………………..lol. I did not see that coming. VERY interested to see how that all plays out and I bet there are either going to be some very happy or very unhappy people after reading it. WE SHALL SEE. Overall, this was a good start to the series, but not a great one. I’m expecting great things for book two and I’m sure Bardugo will deliver.

Each spine had been an open doorway whispering, Come in, come in. Here is a land you’ve never seen before. Here is a place to hide when you’re frightened, to play when you’re bored, to rest when the world seems unkind.

BOOK REVIEW: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK REVIEW: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)
by Leigh Bardugo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads






Synopsis:

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

 

“I would come for you,” he said, and when he saw the wary look she shot him, he said it again. “I would come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together—knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

It’s been so long since I’ve really sat down and wrote a review about a book that really mattered to me. Since I’ve had all this (all day)(endless) morning sickness, I’ve been pretty bleak about my outlook on reading and if I’d ever want to again-I know, right? Ridiculous. As if I’d ever give up my one true passion. But it’s been a long road…and when I saw Kaz on the horizon, I knew it was my time to reintroduce myself into the book community.

“Well, I’ll be a son of a bitch, Brekker. You have to be the craziest bastard I ever met.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

As everyone knows, Six of Crows has been my favorite read this year (yes I was late to the party). No, I haven’t had the longest, most prosperous reading year of my life (that was last year, boo), but when a book truly stands out, you simply don’t forget it. And so here was my baby boy, his final book coming up at the speed of light…and I knew I wouldn’t miss it for the world. But with that comes a lot of expectations.

Kaz had tapped his crow’s head cane on the flagstones of the tomb floor. “Do you know what Van Eck’s problem is?” 

“No honor?” said Matthias.
“Rotten parenting skills?” said Nina.
“Receding hairline?” offered Jesper.
“No,” said Kaz. “Too much to lose. And he gave us a map to what to steal first.”

For one….this is Kaz. You fuck up Kaz? I fuck YOU up. So…this author had a lot of hype to live up to in my pathetic world of nausea and the occasional regurgitation of Blue Raspberry Mr. Misty Floats from Dairy Queen. And not only did I have that larger than life hype in my head, but this was the FIRST BOOK to bring me out of my endless woes of re-reading and missing out on countless new releases. To say I was nervous would be an understatement.

Jesper tapped his fingers restlessly on his thighs. “Has anyone noticed this whole city is looking for us, mad at us, or wants to kill us?” “So?” said Kaz.
“Well, usually it’s just half the city.”


So. Was it worth the hype? Was it everything I ever dreamed of and wished it would be? Was everything as perfect as the first? No. I’m sorry, but the answer is an absolute no. And I keep asking myself, if you didn’t love it as much as the first, if you have qualms about the integrity of the novel and all of the characters…why the 4.5 stars? Are you rating this so highly because you love Kaz more than you love the air you breathe? Or is it simply out of loyalty to your love of the first-Possibly your favorite book of all time under Hunger Games? And the truth of the matter is, I can’t answer that question. I really can’t. But what I can answer is this: No matter whether I believe this wasn’t what it could have been or whether it was and I just missed the party…I always, always rate with my gut. And my gut won’t let me rate lower than 4.5.

Kaz had rescued her from that hopelessness, and their lives had been a series of rescues ever since, a string of debts that they never tallied as they saved each other again and again. Lying in the dark, she realized that for all her doubts, she’d believed he would rescue her once more, that he would put aside his greed and his demons and come for her. Now she wasn’t so sure.

And every single one of my best friends, ask any of them (Harriet, Anna, Jenny, Jen, etc.) will tell you I do NOT lie on my ratings. They come from deep in my heart and I wouldn’t be able to stand it if I rated something less/more than what it deserved. So, I think I made it clear that, while I’m a tad confused on what made this click for me, I am set in my rating. If anyone is even still around I guess I’ll get to my thoughts on the book now.

“If you don’t care about money, Nina dear, call it by its other names.”
“Kruge? Scrub? Kaz’s one true love?”
“Freedom, security, retribution.”
“You can’t put a price on those things.”
“No? I bet Jesper can. It’s the price of the lien on his father’s farm.” The sharpshooter looked at the toes of his boots. “What about you, Wylan? Can you put a price on the chance to walk away from Ketterdam and live your own life? And Nina, I suspect you and your Fjerdan may want something more to subsist on than patriotism and longing glances. Inej might have a number in mind too. It’s the price of a future, and it’s Van Eck’s turn to pay.”

This book…..this book was not what I expected-both good and bad. Because, really, what did I even expect? I knew the first was out of this world creative, that nothing could compare….yet I longed for it to. Second books and third books are almost never my favorite…but I yearned for something better. And, while I didn’t get that, I did get a lot of things I was missing in the first. They weren’t as beautiful, far-fetched, as magnanimous as I had hoped, but they were there, and they were flawed…and how can I complain when I got my (cough) sweet Kaz to show his barest emotions, his most broken self to the only one left in the world he loved. I mean….Jesus. My heart couldn’t take any more. No, I didn’t get a full page proclamation of love-sorry to disappoint those who wanted that-but we did get the Kaz flair, the Kaz way of showing how much he cares, how loyal he is. And, frankly, despite what I had thought before…it was more than enough for me. This book was flawed. The crew was flawed. And Kaz was flawed….and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Around Pekka, he lost the shape of who he was—no, he lost the shape of who he’d fought to become. He wasn’t Dirtyhands or Kaz Brekker or even the toughest lieutenant in the Dregs. He was just a boy fueled by a white flame of rage, one that threatened to burn the pretense of the hard-won civility he maintained to ash.


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The beginning started out just as I’d hoped it would-right where it left off, give or take a week. They have very little time to get to Inej and free her from that bastard Van Eck, and Kaz (just a warning, this review is centered around Kaz so….yeah, sorry) is a man on a mission-A deadly mission. Everyone is battered and bruised, dedicated to the cause of getting their Wraith back, no matter what happens. After all, she has saved their lives countless times.


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But, here lies my largest issue: The POVs at the beginning. I’m sorry, but why do we have to wait one billion chapters to get into Kaz’s twisted head??? That pissed me off-No, the story wasn’t bad without it, but, for me, this felt odd. In the first book, he and Inej were the main POVs and I, quite frankly, liked it that way. In this one, it was all Wylan, Jesper, Nina, Matthias, etc..and THEN Kaz. And THEN Inej. I didn’t like that and it immediately put a sour taste in my mouth-NOW, I will just say this…it didn’t effect that much, I just was a pissy pink elephant about the whole thing. And, frankly, I thought the pairings at the beginning of the book were odd. I can’t explain it…it just didn’t feel right. Everyone was around, but I definitely was missing something. (TO HARRIET-Don’t worry, Kazzy bestie, he was not missing from the story, don’t misunderstand me).

“My mother is Ketterdam. She birthed me in the harbor. And my father is profit. I honor him daily. Be back by nightfall or don’t come back at all. Either of you. I need crew, not sentimental nubs.”

Now, while it didn’t effect the story…I do think it effected the intensity of Kaz’s character. This is why I LOVE him, okay? So when he is stifled by A) too much action (am I really stating this as a problem?) and B) No time in his mind I definitely noticed it. Which I guess brings me to the negatives, since this seems like the appropriate timing of both my review and the book: The middle. So many books effect me this way, even some of my absolute favorites, and I guess I just hoped that since book one had literally no slow parts, for me, that it would be the same here. But it was almost an opposite effect: There was literally so much going on at one point, that my mind couldn’t take it. Anna said it best: We missed the strategizing, the camaraderie, the banter, the scheming, and there was literally no time to do that. The weakest point for me, and where I lost interest for about 7%, was part three: Brick by Brick. This happens in many books, like I mentioned before, but I was hoping it wouldn’t here. And it ended quickly-it won me back almost right away-but it took a minute, and that scared me. I will say, though…it had one of my top three favorite Kaz quotes in the whole book-EEPS. That has to count for something!!


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So, with that doubt in my mind, which saddened me greatly that I had to consider that gap at all, I was suddenly more apprehensive of the rest of the story. Would it even out? Would I get my big declaration? Would I get the Kaz I had loved from story one? Well…not everything was what I’d expected, but there were some parts that were more, and that excited me so much I could barely contain my giddy glee. There are literally so many moments I could touch on, so many scenes I’ll never forget…Brutality, courage, loyalty, respect, love, betrayal [by the author] (sorry lady, but you definitely tried to pull a fast one on me I don’t know if I’ll ever agree with-at least how it happened).

He reached out and took Nina’s hand. Wylan suddenly felt he was intruding on something private. “I am grateful you’re alive,” he said. “I am grateful you’re beside me. I am grateful that you’re eating.”
She rested her head on his shoulder. “You’re better than waffles, Matthias Helvar.”
A small smile curled the Fjerdan’s lips. “Let’s not say things we don’t mean, my love.”

You think you have it all figured out, that everything is finally going to go as you had hoped from the very beginning, and then out of nowhere there’s yet another curveball thrown your way. And while that worked extremely well for the last half of the book, I must say it was sometimes a misfire in the beginning parts of the book. Like I said, I LOVE this series, but it wasn’t without it’s flaws and I feel the need to talk it out on this page. Yes, I’m rambling, but it’s how I’ve always done reviews so…

His eyes scanned her face as they always had, closely, hungrily, snatching at the details of her like the thief he was—the even set of her dark brows, the rich brown of her eyes, the upward tilt of her lips. He didn’t deserve peace and he didn’t deserve forgiveness, but if he was going to die today, maybe the one thing he’d earned was the memory of her—brighter than anything he would ever have a right to—to take with him to the other side.


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Okay, forget it, I’m just going to touch on what I care about most and then I’ll end the suffering that is this repetitive review: Kaz. Kaz Kaz Kaz Kaz Kaz Kaz KAZ. How do you like me now, computer??? I swear, it keeps putting that damn red squiggly line under his name and, since I’ve mentioned him like 100 times, my screen is completely reddish-IT’S A NAME, DAMN IT. LEAVE ME ALONE. Anyway, I digress. Kaz has stolen my heart completely with his brutal truths, cutthroat way of life, ABSOLUTE LOYALTY, his cunning, his scheming face, his cane, his gloves, the phobia he was stuck with because of his unfortunate circumstances…..the list goes literally on and on. And that’s why I was so angry that he was such a small part, I felt, in the beginning. Wasn’t he the main character? He and Inej, mostly? Wasn’t he the reason they even existed, this crew? Well, I didn’t care about them, any of them, like I did him, so that was hard for me to swallow. So when he got back to normal (and his chapters came more frequently), perhaps even more brutal than before…it was like coming home.

The silence between them was dark water. He could not cross it. He couldn’t walk the line between the decency she deserved and the violence this path demanded. If he tried, it might get them both killed. He could only be who he truly was—a boy who had no comfort to offer. So he would give her what he could. “I’m going to open Van Eck up,” he said quietly. “I’m going to give him a wound that can’t be sewn shut, that he’ll never recover from. The kind that can’t be healed.”
“The kind you endured?”
“Yes.” It was a promise. It was an admission.


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It’s true that most of my expectations centered around Kaz, Kaz and Inej, and him getting everything his poor heart deserved (revenge included), but I still know what a good, COMPLETE story is so shhh. I am happy with his chapter closing the way it did, with more to come for him and his eventual (I hope) complete happiness…and I do believe Bardugo finished his story in a way that was completely believable. I did want bigger, grander things for him-But the story ended in the way I think it was meant to, mostly. There’s plenty more I could wish for and plenty more I could say…but I’m happy leaving his story here. I love him. I adore him. No one compares to him. End of story.

Inej thought of Kaz’s pale trickster hands, the shiny rope of scar tissue that ran atop his right knuckle. Van Eck could break every finger and both of Kaz’s legs and he’d never say a word, but if his men stripped away Kaz’s gloves? Inej still didn’t understand why he needed them or why he’d fainted in the prison wagon on the way into the Ice Court, but she knew Kaz couldn’t bear the touch of skin on skin. How much of this weakness could he hide? How quickly would Van Eck located his vulnerability, exploit it? How long until Kaz came undone? She couldn’t bear it. She was glad she didn’t know where Kuwei was. She would break before Kaz did.

This book was far from perfect…but it made me happy. It had pain and torture and brutal moments that any sick bastard like me would lap up happily in each and EVERY story….but it also had its moments I wish were better. It’s a fine line between obsession and sanity, loving a book and its characters too much for my own good. So I will take this as a win-I just know it could have been even better. Less plots upon plots, a little less confusion around the middle because so much was going on (not always a good thing), and the fact that all this made me care less about certain things…these are the issues I had that I wish didn’t exist. But the fact remains: Bardugo rules. Her characters will stay in my heart forever. Kaz can literally get out of ANY situation….and I am at peace with where this story went. I could be happier….but at least this isn’t one of my final book Chelsea fails that happen so frequently. No Mourners. No Funerals.

***************


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Buddy Read with my LOVELY SNAKE-YAY!! We’re BACK! Well…at least for Kaz 😛


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View all my reviews

BOOK REVIEW – Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK REVIEW – Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)
by Leigh Bardugo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads






Synopsis:

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

One day later, I still can’t believe that I didn’t love this. I still can’t believe that I’ve waited a year, seen all my friends adoring it, and ended disappointed and alone in my shameful corner. I still can’t believe that I almost wish I didn’t read it, because I can’t forget that while I did like it, Crooked Kingdom :

Yep, that’s Kaz. Hear me out : it’s no secret that I have a soft spot for cunning and ruthless thieves who may or may not be hiding their vulnerabilities. As much as I do realize that it’s a complete cliché, I strive for it, okay?! Hence my intense fangirling about Kaz in the first book. I LOVED HIM. In the first part here? He was GLORIOUS. Sadly, I fell out of love as I grew fed up of his ability to outsmart ANYONE. The guy’s a Gary Stu, okay? A ruthless, cunning, unapologetic one, but a Gary Stu all the same. When does he freaking FAIL? Why is he the only one who doesn’t have to fight against his demons? More than 3 pages, I MEAN? Nope. I don’t believe for one second that the “growth” he showed in Crooked Kingdom was handled smoothly. It wasn’t. Perhaps I felt that way because he was BARELY THERE? Or because most of his interactions consisted of orders like the commander in chief he is? I won’t lie, some of his repartee made me really happy (because I’m a psycho), but I can’t brush away the feeling that he was the shell of himself. As far as I’m concerned, Kaz was present, but not alive. Hate me now.

I know that many readers loved her, and I’m glad for you, I really am, but for me she was transparent. That’s why I didn’t care for her relationship with Kaz either. Boo.

– Can we have such things as too fast-paced novels?
– Yes, I think we can.

(don’t mind me, I answer my own questions – sorry it’s a teacher thing, oops)

You’re free to disagree with me. Take Fitz for example : a non negligible number of readers would find his stories boring and I can definitely see why. Yet I’m never bored because the slow pacing contributes to multiply my feelings exponentially when something shocking happens. Crooked Kingdom, in another hand, flourishes in never-ending action and for most readers, it means the destruction of all boredom – I can also see why. Yet for me, a story that is too fast-paced, where action never stops, fails to reach that upper level when it comes to my FEELINGS. Perhaps I don’t like heists as much as I thought I did. Perhaps it was the multiplication of cons that did it. Perhaps the novelty ran out, in that aspect. Perhaps I didn’t care about Van Eck’s fate as much as I should have. I do think that my reaction (*cough* underwhelmed *cough*) had something to do with the way the villains were handled : I’m sorry, but I don’t know them. For me to feel engrossed, I needed something more than a one-dimensional, twisting moustache villain I barely interacted with. Sue me.


THIS IS A REAL SPOILER. DON’T READ BEFORE FINISHING. OBVIOUSLY.
View Spoiler »

YET. I wouldn’t have rated Crooked Kingdom a three if there weren’t slices of AWESOMENESS to balance what I didn’t like :

His chapters were, shockingly, part of my favorites. There’s just something so interesting in following the sidekick, okay? Also, he’s adorable and a red-head. It counts. As for Jesper, he was more fleshed-out and the added complexity made for one of the best character development, as far as I’m concerned. His flaws and fears felt so real to me. THEIR RELATIONSHIP BROUGHT ME LIFE.

I loved her spirit, her wit, her strength, her doubts, her fight against withdrawal – everything. AND SHE RAISED THE DEAD. HOW AWESOME IS THAT.

“Matthias smiled broadly and boomed in a singsong voice, “Hello, little friend!”
The woman went from wary to baffled. Nina decided to call it an improvement.”

HOW CAN I NOT LOVE THEM??

Now, I wouldn’t take my word on it if I were you, given that everyone on earth loved it. I can’t even say that I’m in the minority, because for that a minority would have to EXIST? I don’t know? AM I ALONE? And it didn’t influence my rating, but I will never understand why this book is YA. In which world are these characters teenagers?! (in the Grisha’s world, I know, smartass) Trying to picture Kaz or Nina or MATTHIAS as 17s years old makes my head ache.

BOOK REVIEW – The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1) by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK REVIEW – The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1) by Leigh BardugoThe Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1)
by Leigh Bardugo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads






Synopsis:

Limited collector’s edition of the final book features an exclusive Darkling prequel story!

Before he became the Darkling, he was just a lonely boy of extraordinary power. Get a look into the past that forged a brutal and brilliant leader.


{spoilers for Ruin and Rising, I guess, if there are still people who do not know}

This novella was torture for my heart. I REGRET NOTHING.

1) Here’s something I can say for sure : I will always be divided over The Grisha Trilogy.

2) Here’s something I read a lot and that tends to awake my annoyance pretty fast (= that pisses me off, alright) : “people gave the last book a bad rating because they couldn’t cope with the ending, how ridiculous, haha”

You know what? Perhaps some readers did – and that’s their absolute right – but let’s not forget all of those who only wanted for the story to reach a better development and were disappointed. I was definitely one of those.

Indeed I gave both Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm a 3 : a rather good story unfortunately spoiled by a Mary Sue and her knight in (not so) shining armor (let’s not talk about Mal, okay?), an uneven pacing but pretty good writing and dialogues.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t be back on my ranting about Ruin and Rising, so I’ll just say this : the problem isn’t the ending per se, even if, MY HEART. The problem is a story that didn’t live up to its expectations, as far as I’m concerned. The problem is THIS BIG FAIL on character’s development, with MCs who run round and round on circles (the point?!). The problem is, also, and that’s still a sensitive issue for me, the misleading marketing that surrounded its release – to this day, I’m not over the fact that the character who was showcased the most in teasers was MIA for most of the book.

I call this slighly dishonest. But moving on. I’m not one for holding grudges.

Today, I’m giving my highest rating in this series to a 30 PAGES NOVELLA (the kindle version stops at 40%, just so you know), but really, who’s surprised? Certainly not me.

Two Words : THE. DARKLING.

The Darkling was the SOLE reason for my decision to continue this series, and not only because he’s charming and tortured and deliciously evil and fascinating and GAH MY HEART. Above that, FOR ME, he is the only complex and multi-layered character in the entire series. Even here, in a 30 pages novella, he manages to interest me one million times more than Mal & Alina ever did, the little peasants (sorry, I couldn’t help).

I mean, HOW COULD I RESIST? The Demon in the Wood pictures him as a child, back when his power wasn’t his best advantage yet…. but was his downfall already. The suffering. The loneliness.

The yearning for a place to finally, finally be safe.

Evocative and beautiful writing, captivating premise, and of course that’s way too short, and of course I’m partial and absolutely not objective, but EXCUSE ME WHILE I’M CRYING.

STRAIGHT TO MY DYING HEART.
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Leigh Bardugo & The Darkling –

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