New Release: *March 2, 2021*
The Bright and Pale by Jessica Rubinkowski is a new YA fantasy that follows the story of 17 yr old Valeria, a lone survivor of a magical force that freezes her entire village, and all the people within it, into solid ice. Left alone and on the run, she has no choice but to join the Thieves Guild, a secret society that sits on the border between good and evil. But, when she discovers that her best friend, who she believed was dead, is actually alive, Valeria is pulled into something that awakens her deepest fears and forces her to become the person she was chosen to be.
‘Losing him was like losing half my heart. He means more to me than just a partner, despite Luiza’s warnings, despite knowing better than anyone how much it hurts to watch people die.”’
The Bright and the Pale is based on Russian folklore that combines the strength of spirit, love, and family into a really cool read. Add in some feuding gods and evil Czar, and you’ve got something that sits apart from the rest of the books on your shelf.
I read an interview by the author, and I love how she describes herself as “the weird horse girl obsessed with fantasy books.” I also really appreciate that she lets her readers know that the journey to publication was not an easy one for her.
She had over 300 rejections over a 12 year period before she was finally picked up. I have crazy respect for anyone who believes in themselves that much and doesn’t give up. I will definitely be buying the sequel to The Bright and Pale as soon as it comes out next year!
This brings me to the first location of importance: The Docks
‘I throw my arms around and all the heartache and tears I shed over the past year seem to melt away. The dread of Alik rejecting me, of him screaming at me for leaving him flies from my mind.”
Sitting at the core of The Bright & Pale is a beautiful love story between Valeria and Alik. Without Alik, Valeria would never have left her life at the Thieves Guild, no matter the pressure she received from outside forces.
Love is central throughout every page of this book and is one of the reasons I enjoyed the story! Everything that drives this fantasy forward is put into motion and influenced by this one relationship.
This brings me to the Second location of importance: The Caves
‘The Vestry teaches about champions of the Brother Gods, the Bright and the Pale. The gods despise each other, constantly at odds. The Bright God seeks to bring light and warmth to the world, while the Pale God consumes pain and brings suffering to fatten himself more.’
The importance of family also plays an important role in the Bright and the Pale. There are two storylines involving families that cross into one another as the book progresses. The first is the anguish suffered by Valeria at losing her parents and siblings in a wall of ice. The second is the battle between the two brother gods to rule the earth and find their human champion to fight on their behalf.