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Kelsey Jefferson Barrett

The Grisha Trilogy Reread: Shadow and Bone, Part Two

Hello and welcome back to the second half our our reread of Shadow and Bone, the first book of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy. Today we’re going to pick up where I left off last week with Chapter 14 and go right on to the epilogue.

Looking back on last week’s reread, I was thinking about the characters that didn’t get much or any of my attention; characters like Zoya and David and Ivan, who are important to the book, but moreso to the series in general than in Book 1. All three of those characters come up in this week’s reread, but they still don’t seem as important to the themes of the book and Alina’s journey as they could be. Or maybe I’m just too busy fawning over the parallels between Alina and Genya’s circumstances and trying to decide how much sincerity lurks beneath the Darkling’s lies and sultry ways.

[Now, let’s go hunt a mythical stag, shall we?]

Series: The Grisha Trilogy Reread

The Grisha Trilogy Reread: Shadow and Bone, Part One

Hello there, Tor dot readers, and welcome to the reread of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy! I did the reviews for the first two books here on, so I’m pretty excited to be back to enjoy them a second time with all of you.

This post will cover chapters 1 through 13 of the first book in the trilogy, Shadow and Bone. Obviously there will be spoilers ahead, including mention of events that occur in later sections or later books as I consider craft and foreshadowing and things like that.

So, what is it about these books that so many people love? Is it the characters? The Russian flavor added to the fantasy world? The elemental powers of the Grisha? Or something else? I remember how much I loved the books when I read them, but it has been awhile, so this question is one of the things that I’d like to explore as I read them a second time. I’m especially interested in how the character of the Darkling reads to me on the second go-round, both in the sense of how the mystery is constructed as well as how much the character appeals. The pull between Alina and the Darkling is such a crucial element to the story, and I think one of those things that readers really responded to when the books came out.

[Alright, enough talk. Let’s get to summoning.]

Series: The Grisha Trilogy Reread

Slinging Drinks and Slinging Magic: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

Are you one of those people who feels awkward around bartenders? Are you embarrassed because they clearly know so much more about alcohol than you do? Or do you perhaps you get the feeling, as they serve you up the perfect gin gimlet or rye old fashioned, that this smiling purveyor of all things intoxicating has an amazing secret, and that you should be humbled to even be in their presence?

If you answered yes to these questions, I can tell you that your instincts are spot on. If you didn’t, well, you should take another look at that tip percentage, friend, because Paul Krueger is here to let you in on a little secret. Bartenders are secret super heroes, and Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge will tell you the whole story.

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“The Tales and Songs Fall Utterly Short of Your Enormity…” The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Kelsey and I went to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at midnight, and between our ice cream nibbles and a lot of shrieking managed to cobble together our general thoughts so you can find out what you’ve got to look forward to. And we have to say, despite some additions that weren’t too thrilling, if you’re going to miss one of these Hobbit movies, this one shouldn’t be it because HOLY SHIT DRAGON.

Ahem. Let’s get down to it.

[Non-spoilers to follow.]

Spiders, Bear Men, Bowmen, and Crises of Elvish Conscience—What We Might See in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

We don’t have to wait much longer for the next installment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. While An Unexpected Journey met with some very mixed reviews from die-hard Tolkien fans, it was a box office hit and pleased a lot of people. If nothing else, the adventure and action sequences of The Desolation of Smaug promise to be even more exciting.

The trailer is setting us up for a film that looks more action-packed and suspenseful than the first. Gone are the scenes of White Council debates, to be replaced by Bilbo sneaking through the spiders’ lair and sucking up to Smaug, and where we had dwarves running from goblins, now we’ll have of battles in which the elves gracefully slaughter them bad guys in droves. Helped along by Legolas’s flashy knife tricks. And what else are we likely to see?

[The Elvenking and Two Towers parallels…]

Like a Riptide, S. M. Wheeler’s Sea Change Takes Readers Much Farther Than They Expected to Go

I’m honestly not sure how to review S. M. Wheeler’s Sea Change (excerpt here). It’s a bit like trying to review a poem, or a piece of music; descriptions seem to fall short of the actual experience of reading it, and the themes are subtle and made to be absorbed slowly.

On the surface, Sea Change is the story of a girl named Lilly and her friendship with a kraken named Octavius. When Octavius is captured by traders and sold to a circus master, Lilly must embark upon a quest to free him. Lilly is told that she must obtain a magical coat to exchange for Octavius’s freedom, but the coat maker is dead and his (presumably magically) animated corpse is being held by bandits, so she must sell her services to the bandits’ captive witch in order to rescue him. Add in a troll from whom the price of directions is high indeed and the beautiful dark-wife who would consume the circus master’s soul—and Lilly’s to boot—and you have a recipe for one incredible story.

[But none of that tells you what the story is truly about.]

A Choice Between Darkness and Light: Siege and Storm

Last year, I ended my review of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone by demanding that Bardugo hurry up and write me a sequel, and I am very pleased to report that she did. (Although I am sure it had nothing to do with me.)

Siege and Storm picks up merely a few weeks after where Shadow and Bone left off, and Alina’s role in the course of events has expanded to take a broader and more world-driven perspective, which allows the reader to see the plot unfolding on a global scale. With the truth about the Darkling exposed, he has become an enemy of the Ravka and has clear designs on the throne. Meanwhile, Alina must decide where her place is. Should she run, and try to hide herself in the mountains of some foreign country? Should she return to Ravka and serve the King in the fight against the Darkling? Or should she surrender to the connection between them, and take her place at the Darkling’s side?

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Believing in Magic is Believing in Yourself: Terry Brooks’ “Imaginary Friends” from Unfettered

A special five story preview of Shawn Speakman’s epic fantasy anthology Unfettered will be released at Phoenix Comicon this Memorial Day weekend. This week, we’re taking a spoiler-free look at all five stories, many featuring new glimpses of our favorite fantasy worlds.

I read Terry Brooks’s Shannara trilogy when I was pretty young, and if I’m being honest, I don’t remember them all that well. But I do remember how much I enjoyed reading them. I remember liking Allanon best and imagining that he would appear at my house one day and tell me that I was descended from a magical line of elves. I remember being inspired by the idea that a magical world could be our distant future, rather than a mythic past, and using colored beads as my elfstones.

I wish I had gotten my hands on Terry Brooks’ short story “Imaginary Friends” back then, too, because I would have adored it.

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As Beautiful as the Fey: Magic and Romance in Tina Connolly’s Ironskin

I was actually already through two-thirds of Tina Connolly’s Ironskin, before I realized that I was reading a fantasy version of Jane Eyre. Of course, to anyone paying attention, this fact is obvious; the story centers around protagonist Jane Eliot, who comes from London to a country house on the moor to become a governess to the daughter of Edward Rochart. I suppose I can only plead the fact that I was so caught up in the magic of Connolly’s world that I hardly noticed anything else. The fey of this magical England are mysterious and imaginative, and if I have any complaint about them, it is that I wanted more.

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Red Eyes and No Eyes and Dreamboat Eyes in A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

I’ve always enjoyed seeing my favorite novels (or even pieces of them) portrayed in a visual medium. Normally that would be in movies or on television, but cover art, fan art, and other portrayals are also great for experiencing other people’s conception of the characters and places in the stories you love. I find it interesting to see how other people imagine things differently than I do, especially on the occasions when I am surprised by something that I actually like better than the way I imagined it. And while I knew I would probably not adopt Hope Larson’s depictions of Charles Wallace, Calvin, and Meg as my own, I couldn’t wait to see what she had done with one of my favorite books from childhood in A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel.

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A Boy, A Ghost, and the Blood That Binds: Kendare Blake’s Girl of Nightmares

I was lucky enough to score an advance reader copy of Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood at last year’s meetup and loved it, so I jumped at a chance to read and review its sequel, Girl of Nightmares, which comes out today! Girl of Nightmares is just as clever, thoughtful, and creepy as its predecessor, with the added bonus of extending the first novel’s mythology in interesting new ways.

[Read more! (Spoilers for Anna Dressed in Blood)]

Series: YA on

Balancing Heroism and Great Villains: Shadow and Bone

When I picked up Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, I never bothered to read the back flap or even half the prologue. I am generally not a fan of prologues, but when I finished the book and read the epilogue I had to go back and pick up what I had missed, because they bracketed the story so perfectly. And as Shadow and Bone surprised me with its prologue, so it surprised me with the skill of its narration, the endearing qualities of its characters, and the strength of its world. It seemed at first glance like the kind of book I would like, but it turned out to be the kind of book that I love.

[Two orphans, a boy and a girl]

Series: YA on