Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: The Grisha #0.5
Published by Macmillan, Tor Books on June 5, 2012
Also by this author: Shadow and Bone , Siege and Storm, The Tailor
There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls...or so the story goes. But it’s just possible that the danger may be a little bit closer to home. This story is a companion folk tale to Leigh Bardugo’s debut novel, Shadow and Bone.
Leigh Bardugo’s writing is so addicting to me. THE WITCH OF DUVA is one of her many novellas and it’s totally captivating despite the fact that it has no direct correlation with her Grisha trilogy. Instead, it gives you some type of background information for Ravka because it is a Ravkan folklore tale. And let me tell you, it’s an addicting and dark folklore tale. It is definitely not one I’d want to be raised with, but one that I, as a reader who loves gritty stories, adore completely today.
This folktale comes off as a Hansel and Gretel re-telling that has a level of darkness that makes it terribly enticing because it’s so chilling. Our main character is named Nadya. She’s a young girl who is suffering in Duva’s famine. Her elder brother went off to put warm food in his belly as a soldier for the King’s Army shortly after her mother passed. The widow in town soon marries Nadya’s father and this cold, cold creature makes her feel entirely unwelcome in her own home. Her own personal world is being thrown into chaos while Duva struggles to understand why young girls are forcibly disappearing at the edge of the wood. It’s all very complex and surprising which gave Bardugo the ability to throw several plot twists at us that were completely unexpected.
Perhaps my favorite theme of this story was how misleading naivety can be. Character motivations are not always what they seem and perceptions can be entirely misleading if you’re missing other important cues. It gives you this sinking feeling in your gut. However, it also paved the way for several huge plot twists that completely threw me for a loop. Everything led up to the big reveal in the ending and I’ve never been so surprised before. Told in an arguably unique matter, we discover the truth once and for all. Let’s just say that it is dark, disturbing, and unpredictable. Then again, I would expect nothing less from Bardugo.
Although reading this novella is not essential in understanding anything specific in the series, I’d give it a chance because it’s not only wonderfully dark and twisted, but it showcases Bardugo’s amazing writing skills.