Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Date: 5th June 2012
I feel as if I am very late to this series considering it has been out for six years now, but better late than never right? The reason I decided to read the Grishaverse trilogy a go is because I keep hearing everyone talking about Six of Crows, and then I found out there’s a series beforehand and I figured it would be best to start at the beginning. Shadow and Bone was amazing. I read it all within two days and I can honestly say that I think Leigh Bardugo is one of my favourite authors now, especially after reading The Language of Thorns as well, which you can read about here.
Alina Starkov is from Ravka, a nation that was torn in two by the darkness of the Shadow Fold, a place where no light exists and creatures made of nightmares attack whoever enters. Alina is with her regiment crossing the Fold when they are attacked and her best friend, Mal, is injured. He would have been killed if she hadn’t somehow saved him with powers that had been dormant for all of her life. Once they have been discovered she is whisked away by the Darkling, a powerful Grisha who wishes to teach her their ways, for she could be the key to saving Ravka. She soon learns that nothing is as it seems and a dark force is looming in the distance.
When it comes to world building, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone do it better than Leigh Bardugo. We are thrown straight into it, with new words, places and people cropping up, but it was done in a way so that it wasn’t information overload. I loved the Russian influence on the names and the setting which made it feel very authentic and real. I became so immersed in the world that I didn’t want to stop reading. I wanted to know more and I cannot wait to see more of these incredible Kingdoms in the following books.
The magical elements of this book were so different to what I had read before and I loved how there were different types of Grisha, all specialising in certain abilities. There were Summoners, like the Darkling who conjured darkness, and there were others that could manipulate the weather. It was very interesting to see how Alina fit into the elite group after living such a mundane life beforehand, one where she was a nobody.
All of the characters in this book are wonderful in their own way and they were fleshed out so they were relatable and real. Alina was a great protagonist, with a strong voice and her character arc was great as she set out to discover who she really is. Yes, she has self-doubt and wonders whether she can be the person everyone expects her to be, but once she stops moping, she turns out to be a badass. Something else I enjoyed reading about were the other Grisha characters that feature and play a role in the story. Genya was someone who Alina grew close to and it was great to see a female friendship that was genuine.
Mal didn’t feature in the book a lot to begin with and I didn’t have much of an option of him, but it was interesting to see his relationship with Alina. The Darkling…He was the most mysterious character out of the whole book and I found myself wanting to know more. His voice was strong and intriguing, with a few twists and surprises that I didn’t expect. You can’t help but like the bad ones and he definitely has hints of that in him. And like with most good Young Adult novels there is some romance in this story and it was wonderful.
Shadow and Bone was a great story overall. While it may have started off a little slowly, the ending was amazing and made me excited to start the second book. If Siege and Storm continues on being as amazing as the first, I have a feeling it will become one of my favourites. I’m going to give this a solid four stars.