Review: The Bright and the Pale

Title: The Bright and the Pale

Series: The Bright and the Pale #1

Author: Jessica Rubinkowski

Date Published: March 2nd 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy


Seventeen-year-old Valeria is one of the only survivors of the freeze, a dark magical hold Knnot Mountain unleashed over her village. Everyone, including her family, is trapped in an unbreakable sheet of ice. Ever since, she’s been on the run from the Czar, who is determined to imprison any who managed to escape. Valeria finds refuge with the Thieves Guild, doing odd jobs with her best friend Alik, the only piece of home she has left. That is, until he is brutally murdered. A year later, she discovers Alik is alive and being held against his will. To buy his freedom, she must lead a group of cutthroats and thieves on a perilous expedition to the very mountain that claimed her family. Only something sinister slumbers in the heart of Knnot. And it has waited years for release.



The book focuses on Valeria, the lone survivor of a magical freeze that decimates her entire town, leaving her to start a new life at the Thieves Guild in the center of the very country that now persecutes and imprisons her people. After finding her partner and friend alive after she has spent the last year grieving his loss, she will do anything to stay with him, including accompanying a group of strangers to the very home she lost.

This story is inspired by Russian Folklore and mythology – though I am unsure if it is based on a specific story – and the atmospheric setting really brought this to the forefront throughout the whole story.

On paper, this story had everything I wanted in a book, an exciting adventure to a forbidden area, mythology roots, a persecuted people who need help. However, in practice, it just didn’t live up to my expectations. It was well written, and the story flowed wonderfully, but I just found that the story was a bit lacking and that the characters didn’t have as much depth as I would have liked. The characters were interesting, but they just didn’t seem to have a deep understanding of anything beyond a surface level. I just felt they were quick to judge and just didn’t seem to make any self-improvements throughout the book and I just wanted them to have more depth.

I did enjoy it, but it was more of a basic enjoyment as I didn’t connect with the characters or the story. It had a great setting, and the world-building was good, and I am intrigued about the follow-up book as the ending went in a direction I certainly wasn’t expecting.

Overall, the writing was excellent and offered great imagery, however, the story and characters just didn’t quite hit the mark for me. It was still an enjoyable, lyrical, and beautiful story but was lacking characters that were as in-depth as I would have liked and with a story that didn’t quite live up to expectations.

Rating: 3 Stars

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