The Bright & the Pale by Jessica Rubinkowski — ARC Review

The Bright & the Pale by Jessica RubinkowskiSummary:

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

Review: 3 Stars

The Bright and the Pale is a fast paced YA fantasy that I enjoyed reading. This is the type of fantasy book that is perfect to read when you still want a fantasy, but you don’t want a 600 page intricate story. It was fun and readable, but it also had some darker aspects to it that I really enjoyed. It was really atmospheric and made for a perfect winter read.

I am addicted to stories that have a heist plot or a criminal main character and this book delivered on both aspects. The heist kept me on my toes and made for an interesting plot. But I love criminal main characters because they tend to be morally grey. In this book all of Valeria’s actions wit the Thieves Guild are justifiable and the book doesn’t really explore morality, which is something I love to see explored in books with main characters who do some morally questionable stuff.

The world is really atmospheric and you can almost feel the cold while reading it. I thought that the two Gods were interesting, but I would have liked the world building to feel a little more fleshed out. The plot was pretty cool and the pacing kept moving which made for a really fast read. But the characters had very little personality to them and just felt really flat. I didn’t find myself emotionally invested in this story at all.

The Bright & the Pale is a fast paced YA fantasy that delivers a heist plot, but the book failed to get me emotionally invested. The characters had no personality at all and for a book about a thief it didn’t touch on the topic of morality at all and excused all of her actions because of poverty. Several days after reading this book I could hardly remember what it was about and I don’t really care what happens next. This book was entertaining in the moment, but it wasn’t memorable and the characters had no depth to them.

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