The Bright & The Pale by Jessica Rubinkowski: FAQ (2024 Edition)

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The Bright & The Pale is a Young Adult fantasy novel by author Jessica Rubinkowski and published in 2021.

In this article, you will find some frequently asked questions about this book. I have tried to answer them as best and honestly as possible.

I hope you enjoy reading these, and I hope this post answers some of the questions you may have about this book!

Since I will be answering questions about the book and its story, this article will contain spoilers.

The Bright & The Pale summary

Below is the official summary from the book:

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. He is determined to imprison any who managed to escape. Valeria finds refuge with the Thieves Guild, doing odd jobs with her best friend Alik.

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.

Is The Bright & The Pale a standalone, duology or part of a series?

The Bright & the Pale is the first book in a duology.

The order in which to read the books is:

  1. The Bright & the Pale
  2. Wrath & Mercy

What tropes are in this book?

This book isn’t a real typical young adult book. There are many original aspects to the story. But still, there are tropes we recognize from many other young adult books.

The most common tropes in this book are:

  • Dead parents / lover
  • Chosen one

Even though these tropes are visible in the story, they do not feel forced. Rather, they make a lot of sense in the context of the story.

What genre is The Bright & The Pale?

This book is a Young Adult fantasy story inspired by Russian folklore.

When and where does the story take place?

The author said in an interview that this book is roughly based on a story about nine hikers who died on a Russian mountain.

Throughout this book, there are many elements and words that sound Slavic. So for the where I would say a fantasy place based on a Slavic country.

On the other hand, the when is a bit harder. Because it is a fantasy story that does not play out exactly in the world as we know it. This makes it difficult to put a true period on the story. But its story seems most similar to our own 18th century.

Trigger Warnings

Below you will find a list of some of the content trigger warnings of this book. This is to make you aware of what you can expect when reading this novel. With this in mind, please take note of the next warnings:

  • death of a family member
  • discrimination
  • childhood trauma
  • work camps
  • war
  • murder

Does The Bright & The Pale have romance?

While romance is a part of the story, it is not the main focus of the story. In fact, there are no elements of romance in the first part of the book.

But once Valeria and Alik are back together and in the mountains, they show their feelings for each other. So in summary, there are elements of romance in the story, but only in the second part of the book.

Is The Bright & The Pale spicy?

No. Even though there are elements of romance, there are no spicy scenes.

The scenes between Valeria and Alik are very tame. Thus, this book matches the young adult genre well.

Who dies in this book?

When the group is captured by the Czar’s soldiers, they are all in danger. And to make Valeria talk, they threaten to kill her friends. As a result, they end up killing Ivan.

When they kill Alik, Valeria pulls all the powers to her that the god in the mountains has given her. Then she attacks the soldiers and actually manages to bring Alik back to life.

Is The Bright & The Pale enemies-to-lovers?

No, not really. It is more of a friends-to-lovers book. Alik and Valeria start as friends. But when Valeria thinks Alik has died, she realizes she has feelings for him.

After she finds out that Alik is still alive, things are tense between them. But Alik also has feelings for Valeria. And it takes a while before they both admit it to themselves and each other.

Does this book have LGBTQ+ characters or romance?

There is one character of who is mentioned that she prefers females. Nonetheless, there is no actual LGBTQ+ romance scenes for this character. Just the mentioning of her preference.

The Bright & the Pale Characters


The Bright and the Pale Fanart
Valeria Fanart

Valeria works for the Thieves Guild. She answers to Louisa. Alik is her best friend in the guild. But after he dies (or so she thinks) she loses her way.

Louisa gives her a task to help the rebellion against the Czar. Valeria is all too happy to help, but then she finds out it was all a trap.

Meanwhile, Ivan finds her and tells her Alik is still alive and that he needs her help getting to her village and into the mountains.

Valeria reluctantly helps Ivan, all so she can get back to Alik and find enough in the mountains to make her escape.

But once they are in the mountains, strange things happen. Valeria meets the god in the mountains where he tells her she is his chosen champion, and he needs her help to defeat his brother.


Alik, like Valeria, is a member of the Thieves Guild. He has fled his home country and is doing his best to stay away from the Czar.

One day, he and Valeria are on a job but get caught. Valeria manages to get away, but Alik is trapped. The guards shoot him, beat him, and leave him on the beach to die.

Ivan finds Alik, patches him up, and uses him to get Valeria’s help.

However, the attack has left Alik with injuries that won’t heal. His leg will never be the same, and he has trouble walking. His work for the Thieves guild is over for good.


Ivan found Alik after he was left for dead. He took him in and took care of his wounds.

He turns out to be one of the soldiers from the Czar. But he has defected from the army and they are now hunting him. He is also working together with Louisa. This makes Valeria feel very betrayed.

Ending Explained

After Alik dies, Valeria taps into the powers she got from the god in the mountains. This turns her into a vessel for the god. Only, she still partly controls what she does.

With this power, she takes revenge on the soldiers, killing them one by one. Then she uses all the strength she can muster to bring Alik back to life.

Valeria realizes she has no choice anymore. She has chosen the path set out to her by the god, and she must now face his brother’s champion. So she asks the remaining people from her group if they want to join her. And since she saved all their lives, they are happy to help.


The Bright & the Pale is an original story. It has some dark elements and isn’t your standard young adult fantasy book. That said, if you enjoy a book with some horror-like elements, then this book really is for you.

I hope I have answered some of the questions you may have had about this book! And if you have more questions that I didn’t answer, feel free to let me know in the comments below!

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