The Bright and the Pale
Huge thanks to Edelweiss and Quill Tree Books for continuing to be a source of enjoyment for me!
I never know how to start reviews where the books did not jibe with me. On one side, I want to vent about all the things that bugged me, but on the other side I know what its like as an author and how much work is put into writing a novel. So, I'll try to be as gracious and professional as possible so if my words come off rude, it is not intentional, and I respect all authors and the work they do.
The book centers around Valeria, the only survivor of a strange freeze that obliterates her entire town and family. Now, she works at a thieves guild, and grieves over the loss of her friend and partner. After a botched mission, she finds out that Alik is alive, and that in order to save his life, she must accompany a band of strangers back to the home she vowed never to return to.
Valeria, as a character, was your typcial YA heroine. She has a troubled past, and is barely getting by. She's haunted by those she lost, and trying so hard to see a future beyond the place she is currently. I did not have many problems with her, other than her not being set apart from other heroines I've read before. She was OK.
I had a hard time with the romance. Found love is always a great thing to read, for me, but this one fell a bit flat. I was trying my best to understand where Alik was coming from. I mean, the boy's been through some stuff. He's seen some stuff. But the way he treat Valeria, with his constant apologizing when he said some d&*k things reminded me of an ex-boyfriend who bordered on emotional abuse. I would have liked Alik is hsow a bit more emotion aka love toward Valeria so i could root for them. Mostly, I was screaming at Val to gtfo and find someone else.
I liked the world, but I would have liked a bit more about the land and its people other than the racism. What sets this place apart from other fantasy worlds? I have to say, I did like the idea of the two gods. They creeped me out. Every time I read "pale god," I thought of the pale man in Pan's Labyrinth and feel into a ptsd huddle under my covers.
Scariest. Movie. Scene. Ever.
I'm a sucker for Russian folklore...or folklore in general because it forces me to step outside of my bubble. The concept of this book is unique in itself, but adding on that layer of world-building really spiced it up for me.
The ending was tragically and deliciously like everything I want from a YA book. WHAT JUST HAPPENED??? With the new introductions, I can see the sequel being awesome.
To close out, I really did like the premise of the book, but overall it did not hit all the beats for me. I know some amazing readers who will enjoy it, and I hope Jessica has an amazing release day.