Review by Amber Elias, 15
The Bright and The Pale By Jessica Rubinkowski
At the center of an unforgivingly cold world, ruled by the ruthless Czar and its apathetic dictator, Valeria of Ludminka pushes her way through life. After she escaped the freeze that claimed her village and family, she ran with Luiza and her Thieves Guild, met her soulmate Alik, and fought to take down the Czar’s army. That is, until Alik is claimed to be dead and all is stagnant for a year. After what feels like decades worth of heartbreak and torment, Valeria is kidnapped and told by a small group of adventurers that Alik is alive and well… and waiting for her. Though skeptical, she journeys with them in the hopes of being reunited with her partner. Once proven true, their reunion is short-lived, as it is time to pay the price. Ivan, the leader of the group, tells them that they must return to Knott, the mountain that claimed Valeria’s family, to gather the priceless resource known as lovite and return it to the Thieves Guild to help take down the Czar. Once the mission starts however, Valeria realizes not all may be what it seems, and that trust may not have been in the places she swore it was.
The Bright and The Pale is an adventurous and fun read, all pertaining to Russian folklore and fairytales. Rubinkowski did a wonderful job of incorporating Russia’s notoriously harsh environments as well as cultural tidbits into this novel. While being fairly short, barely 300 pages, the plot and series of events are solid, making for a clean and understandable reading experience. Taking into account the length of the book, I can appreciate the amount of detail and character development that is present in the story, a feat I would have believed to be impossible compared to the likes of Rick Riordan. However the novel kept an interesting and steady tempo, concluding with an emotional, thought provoking end. While I would have liked more detail, world/plot building, and character development, Rubinkowski did an excellent job at creating an entertaining and fantastical read.
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