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The Bright & the Pale

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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 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


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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 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

30 review for The Bright & the Pale

  1. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    i see some readers have tagged this as a retelling. even after looking at other reviews and doing some googling, i cant tell you what its a retelling of. to me, this just feels more inspired by russian folklore and myth in general, not a specific story. regardless, its that influence that kept me reading. i like the atmospheric tone it lends to the story - i think this tale of the pale and bright gods has a good blend of mystery, magic, and danger. i also think the plot itself is interesting and i see some readers have tagged this as a retelling. even after looking at other reviews and doing some googling, i cant tell you what its a retelling of. to me, this just feels more inspired by russian folklore and myth in general, not a specific story. regardless, its that influence that kept me reading. i like the atmospheric tone it lends to the story - i think this tale of the pale and bright gods has a good blend of mystery, magic, and danger. i also think the plot itself is interesting and the characters have some depth to them. overall, this has a lot of things going for it, but i just couldnt quite connect with this story as much as i was hoping to. cant really put my finger on whats preventing me from feeling anything more than just a basic enjoyment, but i have no doubt that other readers will love this. ↠ 3.5 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Rubinkowski

    I’m giving this a five stars because, well, it’s my book. I hope everyone enjoys it!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    I’m tired of getting these beautiful books and they aren’t my cup of tea!! I loved Alik a lot and was hoping there would be more stuff with him but there just wasn’t much of anything. Whatever! I’m glad for those that loved it!! My March FairyLoot Box! Click on the spoiler under the picture to see the goodies! I love everything in this box!! Fingers crossed for the beautiful book!! (view spoiler)[1. The beautiful monthly tarot cards and spoiler card art 2. A headband inspired by Something Dark and I’m tired of getting these beautiful books and they aren’t my cup of tea!! I loved Alik a lot and was hoping there would be more stuff with him but there just wasn’t much of anything. Whatever! I’m glad for those that loved it!! My March FairyLoot Box! Click on the spoiler under the picture to see the goodies! I love everything in this box!! Fingers crossed for the beautiful book!! (view spoiler)[1. The beautiful monthly tarot cards and spoiler card art 2. A headband inspired by Something Dark and Holy 3. Socks inspired by Even The Darkest Stars 4. A phone ring holder inspired by Winterwood 5. A mug inspired by the Winternight Trilogy 6. A foiled notebook inspired by Wintersong 7. I’m supposed to a foiled art print inspired by Spinning Silver but it’s not here. If I’m not mistaken they said it was late and they will send it in the next box. I’ll have to email them to make sure 8. The awesome book with shimmery sprayed edges and art under the dust jacket, an art print and the book mark of the month Happy Reading (hide spoiler)] Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cindy ✩☽♔

    A YA fantasy debut pitched as The Bear and the Nightingale meets Shadow and Bone. Hmm...could be good, could be a disaster. Guess we'll have to wait and see lol A YA fantasy debut pitched as The Bear and the Nightingale meets Shadow and Bone. Hmm...could be good, could be a disaster. Guess we'll have to wait and see lol

  5. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    My. God. THIS FUCKING BOOK. I’m reading an early version and holy. Shit. 😭😭😭 THE ENDING BROKE ME AND I SHALL NOT RECOVERRR

  6. 5 out of 5

    Celia McMahon

    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 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 aplogizing 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 fell into a ptsd huddle under my covers. Scariest. Movie. Scene. Ever. I digress... 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    fanna

    June 19, 2020: After eyeing this fantasy for almost a year, the cover has just been revealed and I'm SO MUCH MORE EXCITED because truth is: blue book covers are underrated, and this one is so good. July 24, 2019: Russian folkore?? Do I see Shadow & Bone as a comp title?? b l e s s e d June 19, 2020: After eyeing this fantasy for almost a year, the cover has just been revealed and I'm SO MUCH MORE EXCITED because truth is: blue book covers are underrated, and this one is so good. July 24, 2019: Russian folkore?? Do I see Shadow & Bone as a comp title?? b l e s s e d

  8. 4 out of 5

    Blobbie!

    I absolutely seem to love this cover!, I have do idea why?, also I barely know what’s books about!, but I can’t wait to read it now!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mash

    I think, this will be interesting. Also, why do I feel like so many fantasy books released today (March 2nd), I can name seven from the top of my head.

  10. 5 out of 5

    ♠ Tabi⁷ ♠

    My darling The Bear and the Nightingale along with one of my fav worlds of the Grishaverse?? yes . . . so much yes My darling The Bear and the Nightingale along with one of my fav worlds of the Grishaverse?? yes . . . so much yes

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn Wimmer

    Beautifully written, highly atmospheric debut novel. I really enjoyed this genre bending novel. The Bright and the Pale is part fantasy, part horror, and part thriller. It ticked all the boxes for me. The winter ambiance of the book was pronounced, and it was perfect for curling up with a warm cup of tea and a pine scented candle. The author leads us through many twists and turns throughout the book. Everything is fast paced and interesting. I had a really hard time putting it down and finished Beautifully written, highly atmospheric debut novel. I really enjoyed this genre bending novel. The Bright and the Pale is part fantasy, part horror, and part thriller. It ticked all the boxes for me. The winter ambiance of the book was pronounced, and it was perfect for curling up with a warm cup of tea and a pine scented candle. The author leads us through many twists and turns throughout the book. Everything is fast paced and interesting. I had a really hard time putting it down and finished it in less than two days, which is really fast for me. Most books take me 4-5 days to finish. The characters were dynamic and human. I connected to them, and though I cared about what happened to them, the author was great about making sure we were not happy with all of their decisions. With everything going on in the world right now, I have had some trouble concentrating on reading and being able to relax. This book was able to suck me in and give me a much needed distraction and rest. Though it does not say it on goodreads, I believe that this is the first book in a series. I am looking forward to finding out what happens next, and reading other books from this new author. Thank you netgalley for gifting me a copy of this magical book in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brandi Aga

    ”Something is coming for us...” Wowowwow. I’m not going to lie, I had my doubts! Don’t get me wrong, it starts off strong here but I’ve been in a major book funk so I almost quit. *gasps* how could I?! There was a point where I sat down to read and I turned the page and it just got so so good. Jessica is a VERY talented writer. Beautifully poetic. I could literally feel the cold of the mountains and the ice. So fast forward to the middle where we get to the GOOD good stuff, and OMG. I was legit ”Something is coming for us...” Wowowwow. I’m not going to lie, I had my doubts! Don’t get me wrong, it starts off strong here but I’ve been in a major book funk so I almost quit. *gasps* how could I?! There was a point where I sat down to read and I turned the page and it just got so so good. Jessica is a VERY talented writer. Beautifully poetic. I could literally feel the cold of the mountains and the ice. So fast forward to the middle where we get to the GOOD good stuff, and OMG. I was legit scared, you guys. I hid under the covers for a minute... I even cried a little bit at the end. I had a major flip flop of emotions all throughout. Which is my favorite kind of read! A group of characters goes deep into the mines of a cursed mountain. That’s all you need to know! So spooky and vivid, I felt like I was IN the mountain too. Now, go forth and read this beauty.. and grab a blanket, you’re gonna need it!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Frank-Intergalactic Bookdragon

    "The Bear and the Nightingale meets Shadow and Bone" #RUSSIANINTENSIFIES ----- YES!!!! I AM THE FIRST TO WRITE A PRE REVIEW FOR THIS!!!!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! "The Bear and the Nightingale meets Shadow and Bone" #RUSSIANINTENSIFIES ----- YES!!!! I AM THE FIRST TO WRITE A PRE REVIEW FOR THIS!!!!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Fairyloot March 2021 book of the month

  15. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    An atmospheric and exciting fantasy!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachel 007

    If you think this is just another Leigh Bardugo -like book, well lemme just say NOPE and.........the ending is so dang good. I NEED BOOK 2. Where is it, Jessica, and why isn't it in my inbox?? Okay, real review time: This novel, which is best read with a hot cup of tea/hot chocolate/coffee in the winter time curled up in a blanket, will appeal to fans of Leigh Bardugo, Katherine Arden, and Naomi Novik, but for teens. I loved the setting that Jessica envelopes us in and could really feel the cold. If you think this is just another Leigh Bardugo -like book, well lemme just say NOPE and.........the ending is so dang good. I NEED BOOK 2. Where is it, Jessica, and why isn't it in my inbox?? Okay, real review time: This novel, which is best read with a hot cup of tea/hot chocolate/coffee in the winter time curled up in a blanket, will appeal to fans of Leigh Bardugo, Katherine Arden, and Naomi Novik, but for teens. I loved the setting that Jessica envelopes us in and could really feel the cold. I loved Valeria's strength and her love for her family and friends and how she stopped at nothing to get ish done. Well paced and plotted, I was engrossed in this novel and cannot wait to share it with teens & tween readers (because there's no profanity/sexual intercourse, you can give it to a tween reader :)). 2020, let's go!!!

  17. 5 out of 5

    ℓуηη, ℓσкιѕℓутнєя¢ℓαω

    You had me at "Russian folklore" <3 <3 <3 You had me at "Russian folklore" <3 <3 <3

  18. 4 out of 5

    Julie - One Book More

    The first book in a thrilling new duology, The Bright and the Pale follows Valeria, the sole survivor of a curse that froze her entire village and all of its occupants. Raised by the leader of a guild of thieves alongside her best friend Alik, Valeria is now a thief for the guild. However, when a heist goes wrong, Valeria is devastated to learn that Alik perished. A year later, Valeria finds out that Alik is alive and needs rescuing. Valeria is overjoyed and knows that she will do whatever it tak The first book in a thrilling new duology, The Bright and the Pale follows Valeria, the sole survivor of a curse that froze her entire village and all of its occupants. Raised by the leader of a guild of thieves alongside her best friend Alik, Valeria is now a thief for the guild. However, when a heist goes wrong, Valeria is devastated to learn that Alik perished. A year later, Valeria finds out that Alik is alive and needs rescuing. Valeria is overjoyed and knows that she will do whatever it takes to find him. However, to save him, Valeria is told that she must lead a group of people on a dangerous mission back to her home – a home she swore never to return to. Can Valeria survive this deadly journey and rescue her friend? Valeria is a great protagonist. A victim of prejudice and loss, Valeria is a bit insecure and unsure at the start of the story. She loves her family and Alik, grieves them deeply, and will do anything for them. I admire her determination and grit, as well as her loyalty and fighting spirit. I also love how much she grows throughout the story from unsure to confident, even if she can be a bit stubborn and dramatic at times. I also really liked the setting, which is particularly vivid and descriptive. Cold, haunting, and atmospheric, the imagery and detail immersed me in the story. Valeria’s journey is not easy, and the time in the cursed mountain is particularly scary. Valeria and her fellow travelers encounter things that they are not prepared for, which was scary and harrowing. I did find the pacing a bit unevenly paced, and it took me a few chapters to become invested in the story. A lot of information at the start of the story is a little too much tell and not enough show and feels like an info dump. However, as the story progresses, the pacing evens out, and I could see why so much information was revealed so early on. This is an action-packed story that jumps between thriller and horror. Filled with great twists and turns, dynamic characters, and an immersive setting, the book will appeal to readers of YA fantasy. Thanks so much to NetGalley, Entangled Publishing, and the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alanna ❦

    “His white hair falls over his left eye; his deep cobalt eyes are full of all the warmth, happiness, and mischief I remember.” Ok Matthias Helvar 3/5 This book had an interesting concept but I think it was more similar to Six of Crows than it was to Shadow and Bone. For example: Valeria = Nina Alik = Matthias Storm Hounds = drüskelle Brother Gods = Djel If your favorite ship in the Six of Crows duology was Helnik, you’ll probably like this book. If your favorite ship was Kanej or Wesper (or the ever “His white hair falls over his left eye; his deep cobalt eyes are full of all the warmth, happiness, and mischief I remember.” Ok Matthias Helvar 3/5 This book had an interesting concept but I think it was more similar to Six of Crows than it was to Shadow and Bone. For example: Valeria = Nina Alik = Matthias Storm Hounds = drüskelle Brother Gods = Djel If your favorite ship in the Six of Crows duology was Helnik, you’ll probably like this book. If your favorite ship was Kanej or Wesper (or the ever daring Juwei shippers), then you’ll probably prefer something like Master of One or Girl, Serpent, Thorn, especially if you prefer Leigh Bardugo’s third person narrative over Rubinkowski’s first person writing style. This book was a solid four star book until I read the last few pages. (It’s too spoilery to describe.) I will say this is a good book for people who are just getting into the high fantasy genre— the worldbuilding is simple and fast-paced. Overall, I’m interested in the characters, so I will probably read the sequel, but it’s not really a priority because I’m not a huge fan of the writing style.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melissa F.

    3.5 stars rounded up. I ended up enjoying this far more than I expected to. I'm not a fan of the Grishaverse trilogy, and hearing this book compared to that trilogy was an instant red flag to me. But this was wildly different. Valeria, while in many respects a very typical YA heroine, still manages to be a memorable character. I also really like Alik, and I think he and Val could be well matched (in a way Alina and Mal never were...you know, just as an example). I also enjoyed the aspects of Russ 3.5 stars rounded up. I ended up enjoying this far more than I expected to. I'm not a fan of the Grishaverse trilogy, and hearing this book compared to that trilogy was an instant red flag to me. But this was wildly different. Valeria, while in many respects a very typical YA heroine, still manages to be a memorable character. I also really like Alik, and I think he and Val could be well matched (in a way Alina and Mal never were...you know, just as an example). I also enjoyed the aspects of Russian inspiration that peeked through. While the setting was a completely imagined world, it felt well researched, and the mythology of the brother gods that this draws from has always intrigued me. I wish the other characters had been less one-dimensional, and the pacing was a bit uneven, but overall I really liked this and can't wait for the sequel!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Evie

    3.5/5 stars - To Be Released in March 2021. Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins for the opportunity to read and review this ARC. The Bright and the Pale spins a tale of a frozen village, a vicious czar, dueling gods, and a girl caught in the webs of all three. There is a ton of deception and you will never know who to fully trust until the end. This book had some moments - the biggest being the ending. Do I wish there were more creepy crawly-ness like there was in the second half? Absolutely. Do 3.5/5 stars - To Be Released in March 2021. Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins for the opportunity to read and review this ARC. The Bright and the Pale spins a tale of a frozen village, a vicious czar, dueling gods, and a girl caught in the webs of all three. There is a ton of deception and you will never know who to fully trust until the end. This book had some moments - the biggest being the ending. Do I wish there were more creepy crawly-ness like there was in the second half? Absolutely. Do I think equating this to a Leigh Bardugo novel is pushing it? Yup. Don't go into this thinking it's going to be full of people like the Grisha. However, it is full of characters stepping up to overcome their past and it is full of subtle magic and mystery.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sam Taylor

    Fierce and fantastic. Inspired by Slavic mythology, this story follows Valeria, who lost her whole family when her entire town froze over and was taken in and raised by a thieves guild. This book has fabulous tension, packed with mystery and betrayal all against a relentless, icy terrain. Plus, a friends-to-lovers romance (my favorite romance trope!) Watch for this book in March!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Prerna Pickett

    I had the pleasure of reading Jessica Rubinkowski's debut The Bright and the Pale and you guys are not ready for this chilling, fantastical debut. I read a lot of YA fantasy and the thing that really stood out to me was how well Rubinkowski blended so many elements so perfectly into one novel. From the unique mythology of the world, the heist aspect, some creepy/ horror moments, and a bit of romance thrown in there for good measure. I found my heart pounding and face leaning in closer to the com I had the pleasure of reading Jessica Rubinkowski's debut The Bright and the Pale and you guys are not ready for this chilling, fantastical debut. I read a lot of YA fantasy and the thing that really stood out to me was how well Rubinkowski blended so many elements so perfectly into one novel. From the unique mythology of the world, the heist aspect, some creepy/ horror moments, and a bit of romance thrown in there for good measure. I found my heart pounding and face leaning in closer to the computer screen while reading some of the scenes. The story centers around Val whose village has been cursed under a mysterious spell, causing the entire town to remain under a sheen of ice, frozen in time. Val escaped, barely, and has grown into a pretty great thief, working for a secret organization. Sounds pretty great, right? Val must undertake a dangerous mission and lead a group of misfits to her home town, the cursed one, a journey riddled with danger and intrigue. I enjoyed the cast of characters and how they all came together in order survive the trek. There is so much more to rave about but I can't without spoiling it all for you so I'll refrain. If you’re looking for an addicting fantasy read with a premise that uniquely twists the genre into something new, definitely pick up The Bright and the Pale!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kylie Freeman

    It was an honor to have been gifted an Advanced Readers Copy of this book, because I devoured it this morning in a single sitting. THE BRIGHT AND THE PALE is a dark and decadent gem of a debut that refused to be put down. A fierce and family-driven morally gray female lead drives the plot forward alongside a ragtag group of dangerous misfits, full of shocking twists and chilling discoveries as she traverses this perilously icy landscape. The mythology and worldbuilding is both haunting and immac It was an honor to have been gifted an Advanced Readers Copy of this book, because I devoured it this morning in a single sitting. THE BRIGHT AND THE PALE is a dark and decadent gem of a debut that refused to be put down. A fierce and family-driven morally gray female lead drives the plot forward alongside a ragtag group of dangerous misfits, full of shocking twists and chilling discoveries as she traverses this perilously icy landscape. The mythology and worldbuilding is both haunting and immaculately told. Nestled in my armchair with the heat blasting while nursing a hot cup of coffee, this book settled frost on my bones right down to the very last page. I can easily see this being one of 2021's biggest successes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Neve

    The Bright and the Pale Read the review on the blog! Add the book on Goodreads! Follow the author on Twitter! Pre-order on Amazon! Two warring brother gods rule over the world of Strana in Jessica Rubinkowski’s dynamic debut novel The Bright & the Pale. The Bright God is thought to bring light and warmth to the world where his brother, The Pale God, feeds on suffering. The gods have once again awakened and their champions, imbued with the powers of their patron god, wil The Bright and the Pale Read the review on the blog! Add the book on Goodreads! Follow the author on Twitter! Pre-order on Amazon! Two warring brother gods rule over the world of Strana in Jessica Rubinkowski’s dynamic debut novel The Bright & the Pale. The Bright God is thought to bring light and warmth to the world where his brother, The Pale God, feeds on suffering. The gods have once again awakened and their champions, imbued with the powers of their patron god, will fight to secure their master’s presence in the world. Trigger warnings—genocide, work camps, death of a family member, discrimination, childhood trauma, some gore The Bright and the Pale earns a spot on my top books for the year. I’d recommend it for anyone looking for fantasy with a dash of romance and a heaping spoonful of vengeance. Valeria belongs to a guild of thieves run by a woman (Luiza) who raised her alongside Alik. The two of them belong to a group of people, the Zladonians, who the czar has imprisoned in work camps. Should anyone see Val’s white hair, which she must dye to keep hidden, she’d be sent to a camp where she’d labor until death with the rest of her people. This, understandably, has left her with a deep-seeded hatred of the czar. When Luiza offers a chance to overthrow the brutal ruler, Val is all on board. Despite the dangers to herself, she agrees to steal a valuable ore (lovite) with magical properties that might aid the Bright Champion in his fight against the Pale God. The scheme goes wrong and Val finds herself fleeing for her life. She doesn’t get too far before being approached by a mysterious stranger named Ivan, who tells her Alik, who she previously thought dead, is very much alive. Clinging to this fragile hope that this could be true and that the two of them could reunite, Val agrees to aid Ivan in his mission to mine more lovite. The book keeps a consistent pace, and I enjoyed Val’s journey from being a self-described coward to a self-confident woman ready to fight for herself, her family, and her people. Her hurt and uncertainty come through as she’s forced to return to her childhood home, a place of great trauma that haunts her dreams. The secondary cast of characters were not as interesting to me, but I enjoyed the plot and story enough that this really didn’t matter a whole lot. I thought Ivan, aside from Val, was the most compelling character in terms of his story. Like Val, he struggles with visions from his past and claims to seek to redress his wrongs. He serves as a minor villain in many regards. Though he claims to regret his role in harming others, he often acts for selfish reasons and surrenders to the same cowardice that led him down a dark path. Despite this, I often felt sorry for him. There was a bit of queer representation. Chinua, one of the main characters in the group, confesses an attraction to women. I did like the way this was handled, and I’m really hopeful that this character will receive more love in the following books. Currently, she’s a sympathetic person—kind and helpful—but I didn’t learn much about her other than she doesn’t want to be a concubine because she doesn’t like men. I was kind of like… surely there’s another reason. I also enjoyed the unique world the author created. There was a lot of interesting lore and mythology peppered throughout. By the end of the story, I found myself questioning the respective roles of both the Pale and the Bright God. But in a good way. I’m eager to discover more about their true goals and motivations in the next book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Skye ~ Court of Binge Reading

    Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review For this book, I thought it would be best to make two lists to showcase my thoughts. Things I liked: --The mythology. I can’t wait to learn more about the Bright and Pale gods in the next book! I feel like we barely skimmed the surface of the mythology surrounding the gods in this book. --The duality of light and dark. People worship both gods and neither are said to be wholly evil nor wholly good. I found that int Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review For this book, I thought it would be best to make two lists to showcase my thoughts. Things I liked: --The mythology. I can’t wait to learn more about the Bright and Pale gods in the next book! I feel like we barely skimmed the surface of the mythology surrounding the gods in this book. --The duality of light and dark. People worship both gods and neither are said to be wholly evil nor wholly good. I found that interesting. Usually, people praise one god and condemn the other, but I didn't see that in this book. --The last 30% of the book was full of action! I couldn’t put the book down. --Valeria. Valeria is a strong, morally grey main character. She doesn’t try to be something she’s not. I love that she explored her rage and darker emotions towards the end of the book. For most of the book, she tried to repress those things. I’m curious to see what is in store for her character in the next book. Things I wasn’t a fan of: --The side characters are one-dimensional. The only side character that felt fleshed-out was Alik. I didn’t feel a connection to any of the other characters. --The romance. I wanted more from the romance! It didn’t feel 100% authentic to me. I’m hoping this will change in the next book. --The story is kind of slow-paced. Most of the story is spent travelling. The plot doesn’t pick up until the last quarter of the book. --Most of the reveals were pretty obvious to me. Then again, I’ve always been gifted at predicting plot twists, so these reveals might be more of a surprise for others. Overall, I enjoyed this book and will definitely be checking out the sequel. It’s a pretty solid debut, and I think it’ll appeal to a lot of YA fantasy fans of all ages.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Becca Mee

    4.5/5 stars: THE BRIGHT AND THE PALE was a surprise gem of a book that quickly had me hooked. When Val learns that her best friend is alive, she is forced to leave her psuedo-mom Luiza and the Thieves Guild and to travel back to the Knott, where she was the sole survival of her village's freeze. To ensure his freedom, Val must lead a group of cutthroats and thieves like herself through frigid conditions to the mountain responsible for killing her family. The further and further you read, the mor 4.5/5 stars: THE BRIGHT AND THE PALE was a surprise gem of a book that quickly had me hooked. When Val learns that her best friend is alive, she is forced to leave her psuedo-mom Luiza and the Thieves Guild and to travel back to the Knott, where she was the sole survival of her village's freeze. To ensure his freedom, Val must lead a group of cutthroats and thieves like herself through frigid conditions to the mountain responsible for killing her family. The further and further you read, the more perilous and dangerous the plot becomes, especially when you find out that the mountain is very alive and home to monsters and gods who desire a champion, and that champion is Val. This is a dark story featuring terrifying monsters, malicious gods, and very high stakes. I was just struck by how scary this book was at parts, especially those creepy cave dwellers with no eyes. I had to put it down before bed a couple of times so I wouldn't have nightmares, but I loved it. I love a good book that engages all of my emotions and that certainly was the case with this book. Rubinkowski's writing style is cutting, and this book is filled with intrigue and action from start to finish. Val's character development is a lot of fun here as she deals with unresolved grief and frees herself from the manipulations of powerful people. In the process, she finds herself embroiled with the magic of the mountain and has to make a tough choice to make to ensure the survival of not just herself, but her team. That ending really ends with a bang and makes me massively eager for the next book. With impressive world-building and a plot that has no mercy, THE BRIGHT AND THE PALE is a story about a girl who has long been used as a pawn, and how she decides to take her power back in the midst of machinations of those who seek power for themselves.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Karissa

    Series Info/Source: This is the 1st book in The Bright & Pale duology. I got a copy of this through Edelweiss to review. Story (5/5): This was an absolutely fantastic adventure fantasy. I have been loving reading adventure fantasies right now since I can’t have many adventures of my own! I loved the idea of a magical freeze, dueling god champions, and adventurous exploration through the bowels of a mountain. The story was intense and engaging and I couldn’t put it down. Characters (5/5): I really Series Info/Source: This is the 1st book in The Bright & Pale duology. I got a copy of this through Edelweiss to review. Story (5/5): This was an absolutely fantastic adventure fantasy. I have been loving reading adventure fantasies right now since I can’t have many adventures of my own! I loved the idea of a magical freeze, dueling god champions, and adventurous exploration through the bowels of a mountain. The story was intense and engaging and I couldn’t put it down. Characters (5/5): I really loved the characters here. Valeria is tough (and a bit broken) because of the loss of her family, but she is a survivor. Watching her try to make the best of her harsh life and living through the realization that her best friend isn’t dead was completely engrossing. Her best friend Alik offsets her traits nicely and is an intriguing character all on his own. The whole adventuring party is full of characters with a lot of depth that are engaging and interesting to read about. Setting (5/5): This starts out as a typical fantasy world with some interesting magical aspects. Then we journey into the heart of Knnot Mountain and enter an amazing setting. I absolutely love this cave delving setting and really enjoyed the adventure our characters had here. The world building is well done too, but it was the underground adventure setting that really made me love this story. Writing Style (5/5): This story is incredibly well written and very easy to read. The writing is fast-paced and flows effortlessly. Heart-stopping adventure is balanced well with complex characters and a broader story involving intrigue and thievery. It looks like this is Rubinkowski’s debut novel, and what a fantastic debut it is. I have been spoiled with some excellent adventure fantasies this year and this was another excellent one. My Summary (5/5): Overall I absolutely loved this fantasy adventure story. I enjoyed the fast-pace, the adventure, the intriguing world and setting, and the complex characters. I am eager to see where this story goes and excited to see what Rubinkowski writes in the future! I would highly recommend this to fans of fantasy adventure.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Princetonlibrarytab

    By the end of this book, my expectations were exceeded, to say the least. I began this thinking I would be reading something branching off of Russian mythology/folklore, and that is what I got. As a big fan of mythology and retellings in general, I was super excited to read something that seemed to be a little bit different, and very unique. Despite the beginning being a little slow, once you surpassed the halfway point, you won’t want to put it down- I suggest a few blankets and a hot beverage, By the end of this book, my expectations were exceeded, to say the least. I began this thinking I would be reading something branching off of Russian mythology/folklore, and that is what I got. As a big fan of mythology and retellings in general, I was super excited to read something that seemed to be a little bit different, and very unique. Despite the beginning being a little slow, once you surpassed the halfway point, you won’t want to put it down- I suggest a few blankets and a hot beverage, as much of this book contains a trek across icy mountains. The writing style was unique and extremely enjoyable, and the plot was completely unlike anything I have read before. I am usually pretty good at predicting where the plot will go, but there were many unseen twist and turns (literally!) in the adventures of our protagonist, Val, and her companions. This will appeal to fans of Leigh Bardugo- not because of the writing, but because I can see these characters eventually having a found family bond comparable to that of the Dregs. Everyone is hiding something, and readers are left wondering who to believe along with the main character. Fans of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas might enjoy this as well- we have a bond that is eventually somewhat similar to that of ToG’s protagonist and her love interest, and a group similar to the Assassin’s Guild. There is a bit of a romance, secrets galore, and so much of the unexpected that you’ll be up late into the night wanting to know what is in store for the cast of characters we don’t know if we can trust, or if we love. I am looking forward to the sequel, and I can’t wait to see what will become of Val and her group after the whirlwind events of the ending! My only reason for giving this a 4/5 is the fact that there are some inconsistencies plotwise, and a few unanswered questions that don’t seem to have a resolution any time soon. Also, while the characters were enjoyable to read about, I did not find myself completely attached to them. Val, while seeming strong and persevering at some points, would completely fold in on herself, and lash out at the people who only want to help her. Alik, her love interest and friend, also has odd personality switches, and both of their demeanors could change in a second. Despite this, I recommend this for people who want a bit of an escape, and some VERY COOL lore and plot to become invested in.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin Puddle

    Characters: 8 Atmosphere: 9 Writing Style: 7 Plot: 7 Intrigue: 9 Relationships: 8 Enjoyment: 8 Average rating: 8 = ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book was definitely interesting. Anyone who knows me knows that I love Russian folklore. The Bear and the Nightingale are two of my favourite books. I really liked the unique take of having the bright god and the pale god. I also really liked the characters. I felt like it took a while for me to get to know them, but once I did, I especially resonated with Val, Alik and Chinua Characters: 8 Atmosphere: 9 Writing Style: 7 Plot: 7 Intrigue: 9 Relationships: 8 Enjoyment: 8 Average rating: 8 = ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book was definitely interesting. Anyone who knows me knows that I love Russian folklore. The Bear and the Nightingale are two of my favourite books. I really liked the unique take of having the bright god and the pale god. I also really liked the characters. I felt like it took a while for me to get to know them, but once I did, I especially resonated with Val, Alik and Chinua. I really enjoyed the expedition and all the little bits and bobs we learned along the way and the plot twists were really exciting. I loved every moment that they spent in Knnot. I love a book with high stakes. “We need to find a way out of this haunted mountain or we are going to die” yes. I love it. Give me more. I also really liked the slow burn relationship between Alik and Val, they were so cute. Another thing I loved was getting to see everyone’s backstories unfold. The only issue I had was that the second half of the book seemed so much more interesting than the first. It felt like all the character development, world building and significant plot points occurred after the halfway mark. Don’t get me wrong, the first half was pretty good too, it just felt rather unbalanced. [spoilers] Right. Now onto the ending. I have a bone to pick with this ending. It was kind of stupid. There’s no other way to put it. The smart thing to do would have been to put the necklace on and accept the Pale god’s as soon as they got caught by the Storm Hounds. She knew there was no way they’d all get out alive. I thought that Ivan’s death might spur her into action as she realised they weren’t going to show mercy to her of the two people she cared about most, Alik and Chinua. But no. She waited until they actually killed Alik. To be fair, she did bring him back to life after accepting the bright god’s power but I wasn’t sure if that was possible. Maybe he was just nearly dead. Because if he was dead, it seems a bit cruel they she would just leave Ivan. Regardless, I will still be reading the next book and I am very interested in Valeria’s future character development.

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