Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – Review

Cover- Shadow and Bone

Published: June 5, 2012

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.

ISBN: 9780805094596

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 368 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0


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.

After reading and loving Six of Crows I knew I had to go back and read the Grisha trilogy. Everyone raves about Leigh Bardugo’s first three novels, and I can see why- Shadow & Bone was great. Alina, Mal, and the Darkling are a glorious trio, though they really aren’t a trio. The Darkling is deceptive and mysterious, while Alina and Mal clearly have good intentions. By the end of the story, nothing is as it seemed in the beginning. I’m still trying to figure out how the two sets of novels line up with each other – Is Six of Crows before, during, or after the events of Shadow & Bone?

I love the Eastern European vibes I get from the culture of Ravka – more specifically, I think its Russian inspired but I’ve been wrong before. Bardugo’s novels are the first that I’ve read with a Russian type influence and they really set the bar for other writers looking to go in that direction. I’d love to see some fan art of architecture, characters, landscape etc. because it’s probably gorgeous, though I would have loved to have had more detailed writing describing everything a little more – it’s certainly sufficient, but I want the images to sparkle and dance in my mind!

The Grisha who are much feared (and maybe respected) are divided into three classes- Corporalki, Etherealki, and Fabrikators. Corporalki are either healers or heartrenders, Etherealki are summoners of the elements, and Fabrikators make really cool stuff. They fight in the Second Army, live in the Little Palace and are led by the Darkling but for all that they are still subservient to the crown. This is really what the book centers around- the Grisha are feared by most, but weaponry is advancing and they may soon lose their importance. The Darkling wants to maintain superiority and usurp the power of the king, while crushing the opposition and ending a war that has lasted a hundred years. His intentions seems benevolent at first, but this eventually changes as others voice their opinions and we can see more than what Alina’s bias shows the reader.

I’m really looking forward to starting Siege and Storm to see where the story leads, especially after a very dramatic conclusion in Shadow and Bone. Many readers tout the Darkling as one of their favorite villains ever, so I know he’s not going to make nice and repent his errors but I’m curious to see why he’s such an awesome villain. His bad was definitely showing by the end of this book, but it wasn’t particularly evil if you know what I mean. I look forward to hearing my fellow readers’ opinions and insights on this, so share your thoughts!

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