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.
Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Number of Pages: 358
Publishing Date: June 5th, 2012
Let me start off by saying that yes, this is yet another trilogy that I’m just now reading. I’d like to be able to say that I discovered this book as soon as it came out but, no no, as we all know by now it was only last year that I actually started reading popular young adult books. *sighs* It’s okay though because, after having this book on my TBR list for so long, I finally read Shadow and Bone and goodness gracious. I. Loved. This. Book. So. Much.
From the plot to the characters to the brilliant world that this author created, I quickly fell in love with this novel. The whole idea of the Grisha and the Fold were fascinating and, while at times I found myself wishing that the world building was a bit more descriptive in regards to settings, I slowly but surely found myself truly enveloped within this story.
The rest of this review contains spoilers!
The plot of this book quickly gripped me once I was a few chapters into the story. The beginning was a tad bit slow, but once Alina discovered her powers and the Darkling was introduced to the story, I was hooked.
I loved watching Alina as she learned how to control her powers and once of my absolute favorite moments in this novel was the part when she let go of her past with Mal and all of her pent-up feelings regarding their relationship and her feelings for him and the hurt that she was feeling and then everything just shifted and she was able to utilize her powers and discover the extent of them and I just GAH, that was such an empowering part of this book and I love it so much.
Can I please take a second to talk about the relationship between Alina and the Darkling? Because I basically shipped them from the moment they were in the same room together. I don’t know what it is with me loving dark and mysterious characters, but there is just something about the Darkling that I absolutely adore. Even after reading the ending of this book, I was basically in love with his character. I really loved whenever Alina and the Darkling interacted with each other and I found myself always wanting to read more and more about them together.
“I’ve been waiting for you a long time, Alina, ” he said. “You and I are going to change the world.”
And then… Mal came back. I’m going to be honest and say that I really didn’t like Mal’s character that much. Like, okay, I don’t completely loathe him, but I also don’t like the idea of him with Alina. I’ve never liked that whole best-friend-never-notices-that-he’s-in-love-with-the-girl-until-she-doesn’t-need-him-anymore concept and I felt like that was happening a lot when Mal and Alina confessed their feelings for each other.
I was already expecting for the Darkling to turn evil or, as I like to say, go to the Dark Side (I love any chance to use a Star Wars reference) towards the end of the novel, especially after seeing so many posts about him on Tumblr, so I wasn’t that surprised that there was a much bigger story to him being so interested in Alina’s powers. And yet… I still loved his character. And I still shipped him with Alina instead of Mal. GAH, I can’t help myself.
“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”
The ending was so freaking good and exhilarating and, although I still don’t like Mal very much, I found myself rooting for him and Alina as they made their escape (mainly because I love how much of a badass Alina is and I love how she always stands her ground).
“This was his soul made flesh, the truth of him laid bare in the blazing sun, shorn of mystery and shadow. This was the truth behind the handsome face and the miraculous powers, the truth that was the dead and empty space between the stars, a wasteland peopled by frightened monsters.”
I thoroughly enjoyed Leigh Bardugo’s writing style. It was captivating and detailed and the story always flowed at a very steady pace. The world building was a bit lackluster at times, which is one of the reasons that I gave this book 4.5/5 stars. Nonetheless, I really loved the author’s writing and, once I was used to the Grisha world, I quickly understood it and fell more in love with it.
Overall, if it wasn’t obvious enough already, I really adored this book. The few flaws that I found as I read the book weren’t damaging to the novel as a whole or my enjoyment of it whatsoever and I really, really loved this story, the characters, and the entire Grisha world. (And the Darkling. I love him so much.)
So, have you read Shadow and Bone? What did you think about it? Comment below!