Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Rating – 4.5 out of 5

Spoiler Alert – given that this is the third book in the series, even the synopsis is a spoiler. If you’re in the wrong place and would like to read reviews of Shadow and Bone or Siege and Storm, please click the links! Reader beware! 🙂

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo, the third and final book of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, starts off with a bang, or more precisely, a crash. Being underground for several months, Alina and her crew are weakened and under the thumb of a zealot. Once they break out and start developing a plan to take out the darkling, things become more complicated. Alina is having doubts about what to do and her connection with the Darkling is growing stronger. Nicolai is caught in the crossfire and becomes something different than what anyone has seen before. Mal and Alina continue to look for the third and final amplifier and discover the truth about the amplifiers and the magic behind them. In this explosive end of this series, the truth is more complicated than everyone hoped and the fate of the world, light, and darkness hangs in the balance.

Favorite Quote

“Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.” ― Leigh Bardugo, Ruin and Rising

Why I liked Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

I loved the beginning of this book. There is something so wonderful about a tantalizing plan that goes off so well. There are so many scenes in these and all of Bardugo’s novels that are cinematic in the way that she tells them and this is one of them. Even months later I can still see in my mind’s eye all of the characters standing underground, in a standoff in a kitchen. The only scenes that rival it are the scenes that happen later on in the fold. I can only imagine that once these book goes to screen that the Lumiya and the glass skiff will be truly cinematic and breathtakingly beautiful. Bardugo’s ability to describe scenes so vividly is one of the things that makes her stand out as a YA author.

It comes to light in this installment what place Genya had in the court of the past. The scars on her skin are the physical manifestation of the scars she has from the abuse, physical, mental and sexual that she suffered at the hands of the king. I was moved by how delicately this subject was broached and spoken about. It was a storyline that was given time and space to develop, in the way that we should empathetically approach these types of situations in our own life. While I would give a warning to those who are sensitive to the topic that this might be hard for them to read, I appreciated how it was written about and thought Bardugo gave this part of the story the time and attention it needed.

Another part of the story that held my interest was the Darkling’s Family tree and Morozova’s backstory. I could have read a whole book about how Morozova had discovered magic and the creepy things that he did with his family. It read like a classic (think the original Grimm Brothers) fairy tale to me, and I came away wanting MORE. This helped explain Baghra and the Darkling so much more and I appreciated the backstory. I especially appreciated it given that its an interesting backstory, but did not make me feel empathetic towards why the Darkling decided to do what he did next. Since telling this story was one of Baghra’s last acts, I also feel that I must pay Baghra her due as well. What a badass way to go out, though martyring herself for others, and showing her son her disappointment at the same time.

The fact that this happened at the same time as Nikolai becoming a monster was almost too much for me. Even though I’ve always leaned toward #teammal, I was heartbroken when Nikolai the monster would visit Alina. Those passages made me feel so deeply for him, the confusion and hurt he felt was overwhelming, and I wanted to make the pain go away. I love a quick-tongued, sharp prince and to see him taken so low was upsetting.

The fact that Mal had an extraordinary ability to track was always an interesting detail to me. I wonder if there are others in this universe who are also special but are not traditional Grisha. It is possible that this was only a plot device to set up for the ending, but it felt to me like it was something that Bardugo left on the table that she would have the option to go back to in a later novel if she wanted. I was in tears by the end of the fight scene though and was just gutted by the sacrifice that Mal and Alina made. I need 10 more novels from Bardugo, EXACTLY like these last 3. Thankfully, I’m already on to the next Grishaverse series: the Six of Crows duology!!

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