Date of Publication: June 5, 2012
Source: Personal Copy
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.
I probably acknowledged this book and my eventual plans of reading it a thousand times. A thousand fake acknowledgements later, I'm here to say how much I enjoyed it.
Set in a Russian-esque backdrop, Shadow and Bone tells a story of fantasy and magical powers that is unique and fascinating. Bardugo’s Grisha are glamorous, revered and feared in their brilliant Keftas. The description of Grisha life has me awed and envious of the beauty and splendour that Bardugo created in her world. I sure wouldn’t mind a midnight blue Kefta of my own.
At points in the plot I noticed some parallels to one of my favourite books, Eon by Alison Goodman. Alina reminded me of Eona, at the beginning of her journey. Like Eona, Alina is the only one of her kind and has a lot of lives resting on her new found talent. Similarly, Alina starts out as a weak, intimidated young girl and manages to grow and strengthen as a character. I can’t say she’s reached Eona’s level of growth at the end of the first Dragoneye novel, but that’s why this is a trilogy and I look forwards to seeing more of Alina.
As for everyone’s favourite, the romantics of Shadow and Bone. I’m pleased to say that I adored it. Going into the series, I was quite cautious of how Bardugo was going to manage the romance between best friends. It’s not every book that the protagonist starts the story with a male friend that she actually has romantic attachments to.
I thought Mal was fantastic. The flashes to Mal and Alina’s childhood were sweet and great ways to help the reader understand a relationship that has been there far before the start of the book.
Alina also meets many new characters. Her new Grisha friends were interesting to read about though Geyna may have been the only one with much of a personality. I do wish that Bardugo spend some time fleshing out the secondary or even tertiary characters like Alina’s colleagues at the Little Palace: Marie, Nadia, Sergei, Ivan, David etc.
The Darkling was a mysterious characters as I’m sure he was meant to be. His power fascinated me and his relationship with Alina did give me some conflicting feelings. He is already someone I hate to like but like to hate... Or I just don’t know how to feel.
For all its amazingness and intricate world, Shadow and Bone did suffer from a minor case of debut noveltitis. There were some awkward scenes and dialogues, mostly between The Darkling and Alina, that I wish were done more smoothly. The Grisha terms were a little alien and hard to remember as well.
Nevertheless, Shadow and Bone has the workings of a great series. The book itself is fast-paced, interesting and well written. It is also a very quick read, clocking in at about 350 pages, and I flew through it. Fans of fantasy, Eon by Alison Goodman and good books, I think you’ve found the next best read!