Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Posted March 24, 2013 by Debby in Book Reviews

Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh BardugoShadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 5th, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 358
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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.

4 Stars

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.

Summing Up:

When you’re looking for a good fantasy, definitely consider Shadow and Bone. It features an intriguing and immersing plot in a beautiful world, and the romance and plot twists will definitely evoke some feels. I have no regrets reading this and just want the sequel ASAP.

In Three Words:

Recommended To:

Fans of awesome fantasy like Stormdancer and Finnikin of the Rock.

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30 responses to “Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

  1. This sounds interesting. I’m glad you liked it. I’m going to add it to my TBR list. I’ve seen it on other book blogs, but I just wasn’t sure if it was something I would enjoy. I think I will, though, I love books with lots of action and great plot twists. 🙂

    • Oooh, yay! I’m glad I could help you lengthen your TBR list, haha. I hope you like it when you get around to it, but this one pretty much has great reviews all around. 🙂

  2. Oh yeah, I agree with you on a lot of things. The amazing world-building and setting was my favorite aspect of the book <3 I really liked how she showed us her created world. I also liked this love-triangle, because.. it honestly didn't fell like a love-triangle to me. I didn't realize it in the beginning, so she did a great job there :D and I like The Darkling, such a complex character!


    • Yay, I’m so glad you liked this one too 😀 I totally agree, the love triangle was just so different from the clichéd trope… that makes it much easier to like. 🙂 Darkling fans! *high five*

  3. I’m glad to see you enjoyed it Debby! 😀
    I didn’t really enjoy Shadow and Bone because everything I predicted would happen actually happened. EVERYTHING. Nothing at all surprised me. I figured out the Darkling twist, the Alina twist, the Mal twist, everything, beforehand. ):
    Hopefully Siege and Storm would be a lot better!

    • That’s too bad, Kelly. Personally, even if twists are a bit predictable, I usually look more at the execution, and I felt Leigh really hit the nail on the head. I can’t wait to see what happens in Siege and Storm 🙂

  4. Yes!!! I’m so happy to see that you enjoyed this one as well! I’m not a big fantasy person but Shadow and Bone totally blew me away. It was a really unique setting and it felt really refreshing to me.
    So happy to see another great review for this one!

    • It’s so good to hear that this one also appeals to people who are not typically fantasy fans. It’s just a great novel all around 😀 I just want the sequellllll ♥

  5. Yay, you liked it! This was one of the books I read after coming out of my high fantasy hibernation (which was instigated by my mass disgust with an massively popular author in the genre). Anyway, yes. Shadow and Bone was seriously surprising for me, and I loved the unique world-building, and how well it was done. I wasn’t sold on the love triangle, since I detest them on principle, but I didn’t actually dislike it. And I LOVED that this didn’t end on a cliffhanger!

    Excellent review!

    p.s. I really can’t get over how gorgeous the fonts always are in the “in three words” section at the end. SO PURTY!

    • Oooh, I’m kind of intrigued which author put you off so much… but I’m scared I don’t want to know? ^^; I’m glad you love this one too 🙂 I think I mostly like the love triangle so much because it’s not the cliché trope at all, it’s sufficiently unique. 🙂

      Thank you!

      Hahaha, thanksss ♥ I spend way too much time font hunting. It’s kind of one of my things.

  6. I read in Turkish and i loved it. But it was just weird that in Turkish edition they found a better name for Darkling. The first time i read that name in english i was so shocked! It was a bit lame and simple for me. I can’t wait for second book.

    • Hahaha, yeah, I can imagine that there would be better translations of his name. Darkling is indeed a bit odd… Though it makes me even more curious to find out what his real name is 🙂 I wonder if we’ll get to find that out.

  7. I really loved this book too. I’m waiting to get my copy of Siege and Storm back from Lyn so I can read it. I am so excited. I think it would qualify as a love triangle, but it’s one of the few that I actually like. Because it makes me hate myself for being Team Darkling.

    The world building is fantastic. Agreed. I was so swept away by everything about this book. And I agree about a lot of the female characters. I’ll have to look out for that more in the sequel.

    • Ughh I’m so jealous now of all of you people and your ARCs, hahaha. I just want to know where the story would go.

      TEAM DARKLING. I’m there with you. I think the Mal angle is just too simple for me, you know? And there has to be more to the Darkling’s story. So I kind of hate myself but asdfjkl; DARKLING.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed that about the female characters… I hope that changes a bit in Siege and Storm. I’d like for Alina to just have some people she can trust other than Mal, you know? *sigh*

  8. Glad you liked it, Debby! Bardugo is just amazing. I really loved the Grisha and mythology of it, so different and unique. This was one of the very VERY few books where I enjoyed the love triangle. I kept switching teams, just couldn’t decide. I was for the Darkling for the first half then Mal for the second. Now, I don’t know! Mal is perfect but the Darkling is mysterious and… dark. Lol.

    • Yes, yes, yes to all you said 😀 this love triangle is so unique, I love it just for being different. And I feel you on the conclusion. I think I favor the Darkling, because he’s so mysterious and passionate. I think Mal is just the easy, uncomplicated route. I usually don’t like those, even though they typically win out… Ugh. The more I think about this the more invested I become, hahahaha.

  9. You’re lucky you read this a little closer to the sequel release date than me, lol. I read it a few weeks after it came out and then I began my year-long wait. I don’t normally like love triangles, but yeah, I kind of like the one in Shadow and Bone. The Darkling. <3.

    • Hahaha, yeah, I can imagine that having to wait a whole year on this one would be AWFUL. So glad to see more love for the Darkling though! I wasn’t sure where most people stood on this love triangle, hahaa.

  10. I’m not usually a big fan of fantasy but this book was amazing. I agree that the world and plot were amazing and just drew you in. I loved all the twists and turns in this book and especially The Darkling 🙂 I can’t wait for the sequel.

    • Yay! So glad to find more fans of this series! The Darkling… ♥♥♥ I think my foremost reason for wanting the sequel is that I just want to know more about him.

  11. Thanks for including in your review, how the world was developed in the story. I’m really looking forward in new worlds that are well developed in high fantasies…

    • Yes, if the most important thing to you is world building, this story will do you good. It’s really a beautiful world. I hope you like it if you decide to check it out 🙂

  12. One of the best aspects of this book is the utter uniqueness of it. And the characters were amazing. The world is so rich and imaginative. The Darkling rocked. Alina was a great character. I fell hard for Mal. I liked this love triangle, shockingly enough. But as much as I like the Darkling, as much as he intrigues me and I want to know more, I think I am firmly Team Mal for now. Great review for a great read!

    • I totally agree, YES. This is just so different from the usual YA fantasy. I wish there were more novels of this caliber. I think I’m team Darkling, haha. Just because Mal is like… too easy. But I’m usually on the wrong side of these things. Thank you!

  13. Shadow and Bone has been on my wish list for quite some time now. Your review just intensified my fiending. I’ve got to get this off my wishlist and into me hands and soon!