Series: The Grisha #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 5th, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult
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… what took me so long? Considering how much I love a good fantasy, it’s kind of embarrassing how long it took me to get around to this one. This was not just a good fantasy – it was a great one. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
The blurb on the cover by Veronica Roth reads, “Unlike anything I’ve ever read.” I feel I have to agree with her. I like Shadow and Bone for being so different. A Russian-esque fantasy setting? Never seen that before. While the Russian words got a bit confusing at times, it was a truly unique setting. Leigh Bardugo brought it to life, and it felt very real.
The world building made the setting even more beautiful. I love Leigh’s concept of magic, its integration in the military and rankings, the perception of the government and class system. You discover the world so gradually, and Leigh definitely employs “Show, don’t tell” (thank you!!!!) – the world is completely immersing.
I suppose the romance in Shadow and Bone qualifies as a love triangle. And this is yet another one of those rare times where I strangely really like it. So there’s Mal, the childhood best friend, who makes Alina feel comfortable and at home… and there’s the Darkling. While Mal and Alina are adorable, I’m so intrigued by the dark and mysterious Darkling. There’s gotta be more there. I just want more of him. He may be the most intriguing character of all, and considering his role in the book, that’s a great sign for the series for me.
The plot was irresistible. It was packed with action and intrigue while still creating this beautiful fantasy world. Plot twists amazed me and kept me reading feverishly with the desire to know more, right up until the last page.
The ending just made me all kinds of excited. It was not a cliffhanger ending. Things were relatively nicely tied up. BUT. So much potential for the sequel and the series that all I can think is, “I want Siege and Storm in my hands right now.” It’s definitely been a while since I finished the first installment of a series and thought of all the different paths the story could take and been so excited about it. So much potential. Definitely worth mentioning.
Things that were less awesome: I hated how every girl in the book was portrayed as a backstabbing, jealous bitch, with, I suppose, the exception of Alina and maybe(??) Genya. Across the board, the characters lacked a bit of depth.