Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Shadow and Bone Trilogy #1; Grisha Verse #1
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published: June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt and Company
Rating: 4/5 stars ★★★★
“And there’s nothing wrong with being a lizard either. Unless you were born to be a hawk.”
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 of 5 stars to Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
The fact that I finished this novel less than a day speaks about how good it was–okay, the pacing at the very least–so know that this review would mostly be a rave.
Shadow and Bone didn’t feel special but it was addicting nonetheless, perhaps because it was one big, non-stop adventure, full of exciting discoveries at every turn so it’s impossible to stop reading (obviously I did but VERY reluctantly because it was 2 AM and I had to go to work in a few hours). Another aspect I love about it is the easy and concise world building. Being based on a Russian folklore, it had a lot of unfamiliar terms but these terms were used carefully and only in necessity, so that it didn’t feel pretentious, if you get what I mean. The part about small science was also fascinating. I’m not sure if this bit was also inspired from a Russian tale but it was definitely well thought out (the use and distribution of the powers, the explanation about it–however, I would want a more detailed one hopefully in the next books).
On a different note, I found the characters refreshing. It’s my first time meeting characters with no great aspirations at the beginning of the story–in a fantasy novel nonetheless, that was almost unheard of–yet strangely still appealed to me. Alina Starkov and Malyen Oretsev simply wanted to be together, as friends or lovers, it didn’t really matter. Both orphans, Alina and Malyen have no roots so they consider each other their home, and I find that really pure. Having said that, they do have the typical annoying teenage qualities (prone to romantic notions, petty jealousy, etc) BUT I didn’t mind at all. It must be the bias speaking but I don’t really care. I just love the both of them and more importantly, I root for them not because I know their story but because I witnessed their growth. They started out with simple dreams of staying together but towards the end, it evolved. It was staying together AND saving the world (talk about a giant leap but that of course made it all the more exciting). Meanwhile, the other characters add more intrigue to the story.
I only have one thing to ask of this book–or of the author to be exact–and that is a better writing. I just find that her style is too simple or some dialogue too modern for the setting. Comparing it to the likes of Laini Taylor whose paragraphs are lyrical but never overly done, she just lacks that extra factor to make the story so much more impressive than it already is. This could have been a five star except for that but still, I’m excited to read the next installments.
**disclaimer: photos used in the moodboard are not mine, credit to rightful owners
**models in the character profiles are Aleksana Girskaya (Alina) and Matthew Noszka (Malyen)