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Mini Reviews: Shadow and Bone & The Scarlet Pimpernel

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

gr-shadowandboneI bought Shadow and Bone on a bit of a whim. I spotted the paperback for cheap and remembered that basically everyone loved it, and thought maybe I ought to check it out. You see, not long before this purchase I realized I haven’t actually read anything I would classify as fantasy except The Hobbit, and I felt I needed to remedy this. I enjoy science fiction, so obviously I have no problem with other worlds. Even though I like the idea of fantasy, the blurbs on fantasy novels (YA or otherwise) often turn me off because they sound so confusing. I figured Shadow and Bone would be a good gateway into fantasy.

And I was right. Bardugo did a great job laying out the world without info dumping. The world naturally unfolded throughout the story and I was never really confused, even when I sometimes couldn’t remember what a certain kind of Grisha was. So if you’re a little uncertain of fantasy and haven’t checked this one out, I’d definitely recommend it. Though really, I feel like I’m the last one in the blogsphere to read it. 🙂

I flew through this one, so it pretty much felt like I blinked and it was over. I think I remember the story and yet sometimes I wonder if I missed something, even though the story felt complete, because I read it so much faster than I normally read. Even though it didn’t feel like anything was truly missing, there was just a little something that separated me enough emotionally from what happened and the characters to give it a 5. The story was great, I can’t even think of any one particular thing that I didn’t like, but for some reason it didn’t have all the BANG I wanted. But I did really, really enjoy it. I liked Alina and felt she was very realistic. She wasn’t super courageous, but she didn’t curl up in a ball and cry when things got too hard either. I liked Mal, and I’m almost always a sucker for a friendship-turned-romance. The Darkling was interesting, but I definitely cannot get on that team bandwagon because he is a bad dude. And the ending left me interested in how the story will continue.

4-5stars-editThe Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

GR-thescarletpimpernelAs mentioned in a previous post, I also bought The Scarlet Pimpernel on a whim when it was on the cheap. I LOVE Across a Star-Swept Sea, a retelling of the story (as if you haven’t heard a million times before from me), so I was hoping to really love the original story as well! And… it started out slow for me. Real slow. I have this problem with most classics though, where language and unnecessary details bog me down.

(Hey, classic authors, why do you elaborate on some of the most random stuff and then not elaborate on the really awesome stuff?!)

About halfway through though, the story really picked up for me. The chapter where Marguerite finally talks to Percy about how she feels – WOW, the feels really came through there! And it continued to be exciting, and the last few chapters were really tense, even though I knew it would all turn out OK.

But I have two complaints about this book, one being the slow beginning, and the other being the ending. The ending was really shaping up to be great, but then after the climax, we basically get a couple of paragraphs of wrap-up and then THE END. I always hate rushed endings. I would rather have drawn-out Return of the King (movie, can’t speak for the book) style endings than super short ones (though obviously a happy medium is most preferable). I really, really, REALLY expected/hoped to see a nice scene between Marguerite and Percy at the end where they would finally be all happy and lovey dovey and give me feels like they did in that one chapter, but sadly… no. And that alone actually downgraded a potential 4.5 star book down to a 4 for me. It’s a great story filled with intrigue and trickery, and I definitely saw the foundation of my beloved Across the Star-Swept Sea in it, but the feels were lacking in the end when they showed so much potential earlier in the story!

4stars2Share your thoughts on Shadow and Bone &/or The Scarlet Pimpernel! And please feel free to recommend other fantasy books you think I might like!