Did Leigh Bardugo’s Ruin and Rising just break my heart?

14061957Maybe there are no words at the moment for me to explain the emotions I’m feeling right now. Because I can’t seem to find them. When I started this ‘Grishaverse reading project’, honestly, I didn’t expect to be affected in this way. And yet I am.

A few days ago I made a decision to reacquaint myself with YA fantasy. Decision was struck to make Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse my first victim. I am reading the books in order of publication, therefore the first series to read was the Shadow and Bone trilogy. The first book Shadow and Bone was an enjoyable reading experience, then the second book Siege and Storm gave the story a new darkness and I enjoyed it even more than the first one.
And so, my journey with Alina comes to an end. I have just finished Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo… and I am ruined.

Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.”

WARNING: if you haven’t read this book by now, I’m (not) sorry to inform you that there will be spoilers.

In the first chapter we are confronted with a weak, white-haired Alina. After the battle with The Darkling at the end of Siege and Storm, they are both deeply injured. Alina was brought to an underground fortress named The White Cathedral. She has lost her powers and the Apparat is keeping her prisoner there to strengthen the cult around Sankta Alina. After a bit of fighting, Alina and her gang manage to leave the White Cathedral. What rubbed me wrong for the first half of the book is the fact that she took Tamar and Tolya with her. The fact that they are fanatics and literally sold her out to the Apparat in the previous book is a betrayal to me. I can’t understand how she can trust them. In the second half of the book I was no longer so bitter about it, however, I still dislike them a bit.

After leaving the underground, they are headed toward the mountains where the bird that is the third amplifier lives. On their way there Nikolai rescues them from a gang of mercenaries and brings them to his cool mountain fortress. Everything seems relaxed for a moment, I guess Nikolai has this way of making everything seem possible. Despite that, quickly everything turns sour with The Darkling arrival. Many are slaughtered and Alina manages to escape only because of Baghra’s sacrifice. This interaction between Baghra and The Darkling is amazing. The way his pain was shown is done amazingly. In this battle, Nikolai is turned into a despicable hybrid between a nichevo’ya and a human. I lost my shit when this happened.

517pm0n2bmqlAfter they manage to run away, Alina and the others decide to catch the bird on their own. However, when they finally see it, they realize it isn’t actually the third amplifier. Mal is. And I again lost my shit. What? I can’t deal with this…

I can’t say I always rooted for Mal. At first, he was just boring, then he was a bit annoying and now he became one of the fanatics. And yet, I can’t help myself. I really like Mal. And the way he acts is so human, so realistic. The pain he feels because of who Alina is and the way he learns to deal with it. It makes me so sad. The hopeless romantic inside me was tense all the time. I just wanted them to find a way to be together. And then it turns out she must kill him to defeat The Darkling? Oh, god.

After that whole ordeal I was constantly waiting for something horrible to happen. I was anxious and scared, honestly. They were preparing for battle and every scene was filled with pain and sadness. And then, the final battle came. It was obvious from the beginning that Mal would have to die. The battle was, in my opinion, described well. I liked how the fights and strategies were explained.

When Mal died and everything seemingly went to shit I cried actual tears. And then The Darkling died. Oh come on! My heart was just fine before I read these books. Why did I need to fuck it up?!

I need to admit that the fact that Alina and Mal lost their powers after this made me very sad. As much as I wanted a simpler life for them, I also hate that they were stripped of such a big part of themselves. However, I need to say that the epilogue calmed me down a bit. I think the epilogue is a beautiful piece of writing and it gave me closure.

“They had an ordinary life, full of ordinary things, if love can ever be called that.”

And now… I want to speak about my beautiful, perfect and wicked boy, Aleksander Morozova, The Darkling. As much as he is cruel and vicious, I can’t fight the pull he has. And Alina can’t either. I am sure that as much as she loves Mal, she also has this deep bond with The Darkling.

“There are two thrones on that dais. You could see me anytime you liked.”

I think she was always on the verge of joining him. And I must admit that most of the time wanted her to. The moments they shared in visions were always so beautiful and I think he wanted to change. I don’t think he always wanted to use Alina, but that he was truly fond of her. I really liked that Alina gave him the opportunity to feel human by saying his name. And I love that she said it as a goodbye. That way, his death wasn’t just a fall of a despised tyrant but also of a broken man who simply lacked love.

“Once more,” he said. “Speak my name once more.”

He was ancient, I knew that. But in this moment he was just a boy—brilliant, blessed with too much power, burdened by eternity.

“Aleksander.” His eyes fluttered shut. “Don’t let me be alone,” he murmured. And then he was gone.

And with these words and a broken heart, I finish my journey through the Shadow and Bone trilogy.

However… my Grishaverse journey is not yet finished. I will be reading the Six of Crows duology next, so be ready for my opinions on those books. Until then, pray to Sankta Alina for me to heal my heart and get over The Darkling’s death.


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