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July 15, 2013

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?
I have no idea why it took me so long to read Shadow and Bone, but having finished it about fifteen minutes ago, one thing is for sure--I need book two, Siege and Storm, as soon as possible.

Protagonist Alina Starkov initially appears to be nothing more than an unfortunate orphan due to the wars that ravage the nation of Ravka. However, she's actually far more powerful than anyone could have imagined, and this puts her very life at risk. From the beginning, I knew I was going to adore Alina. Sure, she's not perfect, but who is? She has brains and wit, and even if she often fails to believe in herself, she's not afraid to take a leap of faith.

I'll admit that I didn't find Alina's personal story to be particularly original--she reminded me a lot of Elisa from the Fire and Thorns series--but what her character lacks is made up and then some by the unique setting. The seemingly alternate scape of Russia is what initially caught my interest in Shadow and Bone, and I'm so glad to say that the world-building did not disappoint. While there's no way I could pronounce most of special titles listed throughout the novel, such as the distinctions within the Grisha, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring a world so different from any I've previously read about.

It's likely apparent by now that I haven't mentioned a love interest, but don't worry, I just needed a little more space for that. Why? Two words: love triangle. I'm not typically fond of those, so when it began to develop, I did cringe a bit. At the same time, though, I eventually came to realize that the triangle in Shadow and Bone is not the usual two-boys-one-girl scenario. On one hand is Malyen "Mal" Oretsev, essentially Alina's best friend since they grew up together. Mal is a little arrogant and foolish, but it's clear that his love for Alina is genuine. On the other hand is the mysterious Darkling, the one who discovers Alina's ability and whose rank is only just below the king. Personally, I was far more attracted to the allure of the Darkling, but unfortunately he's not quite who I expected him to be. Therefore I must say that Mal is, at least at this point, a better fit for Alina.

At the end of the day, Shadow and Bone not only kept me intrigued but also on the edge of my seat, dying to know just what would happen to Alina. I'm quite glad that the book didn't end with a cliffhanger as that only would have made me all the more anxious for the next book, but regardless, I absolutely cannot wait to read what happens next. Fantasy fans, don't let this one pass you by.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars


  1. Great review! I really loved the setting in Russia, so original. It was one of my favourite fantasy reads ever. Siege and Storm is awesome too, hope you enjoy that one as well.

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  3. Um, you're not the last person. I am. I have yet to read this book. And my hand hovered over it at the bookstore. I should have bought it!! Now I need to get read.

    Zaira Lynn (Ptarmigan Hunting Alaska)