Review: Ruin and Rising

11:00 Cilla P 2 Comments

Title: Ruin and Rising
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Orion Books
Source: Periplus Bookstore

The Darkling pressed a kiss to the top of my hair. "I will strip away all that you know, all that you love, until you have no other shelter but me."

For Alina, time is running out. To destroy the Darkling, she must find the elusive firebird, and she must find it soon.

The Darkling's power is growing. And so is his connection to Alina. Can Alina escape the hold he has over her? Does she want to?

Mal is the only person Alina can rely on. But could giving in to the bond between them be the most dangerous decision of all?

Review: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

I am not ruined. I am ruination.

What a conclusion. A quick glance over the rated reviews on Goodreads indicated to me that many were disappointed by this book, but I personally found a lot to love about it.

Alina's raggedy team has dwindled in number; they're broken and exhausted, but also open in the way none of them had been before. Where it was difficult to determine anyone's motivation in Siege and Storm, here it is clear. Even if their actions might not always be predictable, you could understand their motive. The same can be said for those outside of Alina's circle, including the Darkling. Also, the fact that we only have to follow a few allowed more room for character development all around. Genya and Zoya are my favourites in terms of growth. And of course, there is Alina.

Alina is one resilient woman, and she is the embodiment of the title. When we left her last, she was almost ruined, and despite the many losses she's endured since then, she rises to the challenge she'd been tasked with. The way she wields her power and captivates an audience is so far from the shy girl she was at the start of the series; she's not only become a leader, but also her own person - not just one half of Mal-and-Alina.

Speaking of Mal, all I have to say is I KNEW IT. Not that I predicted what happened exactly, but I knew something was going on there. Anyway, he is the picture of solidity in this book and I'm glad we have the less-angsty version of him back. Nikolai is still my favourite of Alina's suitors, but I never really saw him or the Darkling as competitions for Alina's love. She's always had such different responses to all three men that it's clear to me who her heart belongs to. (As a sidenote, I know the Darkling is supposed to look really young, but since we found out he's like hundreds of years old, I keep picturing him as Jason Isaac-like.)

The rest of the book didn't disappoint either. The world-building continues to amaze me, and the blend of science and magic is so much fun to read. I loved the scenes where they discussed their strategies. The battle scenes are the highlights of the book though. Bardugo has a skill for twists; I never see them coming, and they're always so destructive! The battle at the Spinning Wheel had me gasping (and swearing) out loud. That final battle actually brought me to tears; I love that ending. It was not a neat happily-ever-after for all of the characters, but then a war never ends like that.

My only struggle with the book was that I kept getting confused and had to backtrack to check if I had missed something about Morozova's history. That could have been thanks to my attempt at speed-reading though. All in all, I left this series feeling satisfied, and I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for more books by Leigh Bardugo in the future.


  1. I completely agree with all your points! I knew there was something different about Mal. There was no way he could be that great of a tracker and just be normal. I just didn't expect him to play that big of a role! And that's not happily-ever-after like you said, but it's definitely powerful and bittersweet.
    Fantastic review, Cilla! :D
    ~Erika @ Books, Stars, Writing. And Everything In Between.

    1. Honestly I was expecting Mal to be some sort of unique Grisha like Alina, but the role he ended up playing was even better! Powerful is a good word to describe the ending. I didn't see the resolution coming at all, but that's part of why I loved it.
      Thanks so much, Erika! :D <3


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