Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Orion
UK Release date: June 2012
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him. But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him? (Goodreads)
Fantasy is one of my favourite favourite genres, but sometimes when I read fantasy books I can get completely overwhelmed by the setting and world building and the history of the story. But The Gathering Dark wasn't like that at all. The concept of magic wielding Grisha living in Ravka was set up beautifully, so that it completely captured my imagination and was easy to read and get into. With the menacing Shadow Fold splitting Ravka in two, there was a sense of foreboding underlying and driving the plot. As Alina discovered some hidden powers, she was thrown into a completely new world which tested her, amazed but also surprised her.
I loved the idea that Grisha had hierarchies based on their gifts and area of expertise, whether that was healers or Fabirkators. From the outside, Grisha seemed magical, perfect and beautiful - a life of splendor. But on the inside there was actually jealousy, prejudice and fighting. With the Darkling at the top of that hierarchy, everyone deferred to him and fought for his attention. It was these psychological complexities that added so much intrigue as I tried to understand each of the characters and whether they could be trusted or not.
The Darkling was the most mysterious character of all; he was aloof, secretive and powerful. He would often disappear for weeks, coming and going as he pleased. As leader of the Grisha, he had this appeal and attraction surrounding him that people in positions of power often have, and like Alina I could feel myself drawn to him. Despite this, there was also something about him that felt a little dangerous and exciting but I couldn't put my finger on it and figure out what that was. But I liked the fact that he oozed mystery because it kept me guessing.
Alina was the kind of protagonist that I like, as she started off weak and vulnerable and to be honest a little snappy. But as she developed her gifts she became much more positive and happy. I liked the fact throughout the story she still kept her own sense of personality and didn't submit to everyone else's wishes.
Mal and Alina have had this close connection since childhood when they met in an orphanage. They've been best friends for years, but Alina can't help but feel something more for him. But he doesn't seem to notice her, which made me want to shake him senseless. To start with we didn't really see much of Mal, but later into the story he really came into his own and I have to admit I started falling for him a little. His protectiveness and caring side balanced really well against his manly, rugged, independent side making him the perfect hero to any story.
The Dark Gathering was a thrilling and enchanting fantasy; easy to read and hard to put down.