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Allusion is not Illusion

You'll pry my books off my cold, dead body. By the time you shift them all I'll be flat and dessicated.

Currently reading

Winter's Tales
Karen Blixen, Isak Dinesen
Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (Penguin Classics)
Rebecca West, Christopher Hitchens
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Susanna Clarke
Already Dead
Charlie Huston
The Rings of Saturn
W.G. Sebald, Michael Hulse
Lady Audley's Secret
Mary Elizabeth Braddon, David Skilton
Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became "People" - And How You Can Fight Back
Thom Hartmann
The City, Not Long After
Pat Murphy
You Can Sketch: A Step-by-Step Guide for Absolute Beginners
Jackie Simmonds
Lonely Werewolf Girl
Martin Millar
Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo, Leigh Bardugo At first I thought this was going to be really good. We start with the sad, pale war orphans roaming like animals or ghosts through the vast manor house and eavesdropping on servants. Then the as-yet-unexplained "Grisha" show up with their mysterious tests and unknown powers. Then we jump forward a decade and see our orphans grown up, or nearly, and enlisted, marching through a cold, grim land that seems perpetually at war. They must brave the almost-impossible crossing of the Unsea, a region of darkness created by catastrophic evil magic and peopled by man-eating flying monsters.

When our pleasingly plain and charmless heroine manifests unsuspected (by the characters) Specialness, her world is turned upside down and she is whisked across the kingdom to the capitol, where she will be safe from assassins and learn to use her new power to Save the Kingdom. The description of the palace-within-a-palace and its ornately carved walls and over-the-top luxuries was well done.

And then Alina becomes a student Grisha and the whole thing collapses into YA generic-ness. All the other girls are gossipy, bitchy Mean Girls who are Mean to Alina. I suppose this is intended to make Alina likable by comparison, since she is otherwise a whiny, self-absorbed wet blanket. She crushes on two boys and feels inferior a lot. There are dresses and make-over scenes. Alina becomes magically pretty.

Without giving away any plot twists, I will say that the book got better again in the last section, although not as good as I was hoping at the beginning. But overall, the main thing that makes this book stand out from the YA fantasy-romance herd is the vaguely Russian setting. The characters and magical system were minimally interesting.