Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha, #1
Genres: YA, paranormal, fantasy
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.
The plot of Shadow and Bone is pretty much your standard YA fantasy book with a female MC — from the undiscovered and special powers to the make-overs and love-triangle. That being said, it’s an excellent example of the genre.
What I loved.
Bardugo’s writing is beautiful and lovely to read while the plot moves quickly without feeling rushed.
The Russian-esque tilt of the story is wonderful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this in a fantasy novel before. It’s subtly woven into the story so that it melds into the fantasy aspects, giving the world an entirely unique feel and (I hope) opening up lots of possibilities for the rest of the trilogy.
The Grisha world was really well done in it’s own right. The complex structures within the Grisha ranks, the beauty of the Little Palace and all the little details – such as the Grisha’s coloured keftas, strange habit of eating trumped up peasant foods.
The ending was brilliant. I’m so used to seeing characters who beat the odds by doing the right thing and make sacrifices for the greater good. I really liked that in the final conflict on the Unsea Alina decides (and that bit’s important) to act selfishly, saving herself and Mal even though it means abandoning the other Grisha and the ambassadors.
What I was less keen on.
I felt the love triangle aspect wasn’t really necessary to the story. The Darkling is a really interesting villain and would have had just as much impact as a friend or mentor.
The catty cliquey high-school girls scenes. I felt like Zoya especially had no other purpose than to play the part of ‘mean girl’ without any real reason.