CBR13 BINGO: Pandemic and 1/2 Cannonball!
I used to read a lot more YA. A lot as in almost exclusively, and was particularly drawn to the fantasy/supernatural end of that spectrum. Rife with trilogies and series, which are also my bag, I fell down that particular rabbit hole for years. I think I was a little overloaded on it after awhile and when books began to blur together, I kind of phased out. I guess when you get to the point where you can’t remember which series is which, it’s time to call a time out.
Then, I picked up A Court of Thorns and Roses and remembered WHY I read those books in the first place (I’d argue ACOTAR is pretty racy for YA. My library begs to differ). Yes, some of these books aren’t particularly well written and can be shamefully derivative. BUT, if they have interesting world building, compelling characters and enough imminent peril to keep me up until 2am flipping those pages? Damn. That’s entertainment, folks. If the reading is an immersive experience that brings me joy, I’m not going to argue. There is just too much garbage happening these days and if I can escape completely, for a couple hours at a time, I’m gonna.
Bardugo offers that aforementioned escape into a world of warring kingdoms severed by a long dark slash that separates the western side from the rest of the land. The dark slash, the Shadow Fold, is full of super scary people-eating wraiths called the Volcra. People generally try to stay out of it but in order to get goods and game that only reside in the West, parties of soldiers, gamesman and the mystical Grisha risk periodic crossings. The Grisha are people gifted with extraordinary talents like manipulating elements, squishing internal organs and cutting things and people in half. Helpful talents but even the Grisha fear what slithers and flies inside the Shadow Fold.
Alina is taken in as a child by a rich Duke who offers his estate as an orphanage. Becoming an apprentice cartographer when she is grown, Alina eventually finds herself on one of treks across the Shadow Fold. Acting on pure emotion when a Volcra attempts to snatch her best friend, Alina awakens a power that she has been keeping under lock and key since childhood. A power that the greatest Grisha, The Darkling, has been waiting for.
I was on the fence about this series. Read the reviews, saw the covers staring at me at book stores and the library but finally caved (much in the same was as I did with Bridgerton) when the filmed version popped up on Netflix. I flipped the “do I just watch it or am I going to read it first” coin and landed on the library. Much like Bridgerton, I’m glad that I did.