Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh BardugoShadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 5, 2012
Pages: 358
Format: Hardcover
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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.

Everyone I know who has read this book/trilogy, loves it! I had no interest in reading it until the third book, Ruin and Rising, released. At that point, I figured I could add them to my TBR and then binge read all three. Still, it’s taken me another year since then to get to them – And I’m SO sorry I didn’t read this brilliant, wonderful series sooner! Shadow and Bone was epic beyond words! The world/world-building was beautiful and full of depth, the characters were realistic and likable and Leigh Bardugo’s writing was rich and gorgeous.

I love Alina. She’s so real and relatable and awesome. I love how she’s not perfect and her gift doesn’t come easy to her. I love how she defends herself and speaks her mind, even to people who could kill her with a snap of their fingers – even to the Darkling. I love how she’s both brave and vulnerable. I also loved her progress throughout the book. She struggled, slowly learning how to master her gift, getting a little bit better, day by day. I loved that it didn’t come easy to her. She had to work hard and fall a few times, but she got right back up each time.

She actually reminded me of Celaena from Throne of Glass. Both are strong, fierce, badass women. Both have identities/gifts they kept hidden. Both have the potential to change the world. The big difference is that Celaena was raised to be a badass assassin and, up until now, Alina was a regular girl who didn’t know she was special. But both are two of my all-time favorite female MC’s now!

I know Mal is the major love interest in this book, but I really just got the friend vibe from him. Also, he acted like a major jerk and I wanted to smack him for the way he spoke to Alina and the way he treated her. As much as I hate to admit it, though, he really redeemed himself as the book went on. By the end, I really liked him, but he still never felt like a potential love interest. I always felt like he and Alina were great friends and that’s all they should be. Maybe that will change as I get into the second book. But for now, I’m not convinced of their ship.

In the beginning, I was wary of the Darkling. He’s the bad guy you can’t help but swoon over, the one you hope ends up on the side of good, who realizes the error of his ways. Overall, the Darkling was an epic villain. He’s a master manipulator and it’s hard to tell when he’s being deceitful in order to get his way and when he’s being sincere – something that makes it easy to fall into his trap, to believe his lies and doubt his truths. It makes him very, very scary. The revelations regarding him and his background were insanely epic and completely blew my mind. But keeping them in mind, I can’t help but wonder how anyone could ship him and Alina – no offense to anyone who does! I still have two books to convince me otherwise! But his actions at the end of Shadow and Bone left much to be desired…

I really liked Genya in the beginning. She was kind and more authentic than most of the other characters we met. But her actions near the end had me doubting her authenticity. I hope we see more of her in the second book and I hope she redeems herself. The Apparat was creepy and I don’t trust him, but I have a feeling there’s more to him than we know.

There were a LOT of secondary and tertiary characters in this book. While I couldn’t possibly talk about them all, I want to say that I did really like a lot of them, even when they were getting on my nerves! They just made this whole world feel that much more real and authentic. Really, I just loved everything about this world – the magic, the rules, the history, all of it. The whole thing was breath-taking and wonderful. Ravka is definitely in my Top Ten Favorite Fictional Worlds!

The ending was epic and intense. I’m very excited to pick up the next book and see what happens next for our beloved characters. Leigh Bardugp is a gorgeous writer who will pull you into her world and make you fall for her characters. I highly, highly recommend this book for fans of fantasy and magic. If you loved Throne of Glass (and books like it), you’ll love Shadow and Bone!


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