Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 5th, 2012
Series: The Grisha #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Rating: 5 out of 5
"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."
Alina Starkov is hardly an exceptional being – she's a thin, sickly orphan girl who cannot even sketch very well when it comes to her job as a junior cartographer's assistant in the Ravkan army. But, after she unleashes her hidden Grisha (talented people who use the Small Science of the elements) side in order to save her childhood best friend Mal, Alina is whisked away to live like a Grisha. And as she learns to unleash the Grisha part of herself, she slowly evolves into something more than a sickly orphan. But, it's not being Grisha that makes Alina a fascinating protagonist – it's her growing determination and budding confidence, along with her weaker moments, that cause her to become a character a reader can root for.
SHADOW AND BONE is richly descriptive and engrossing. I'm an avid fan of YA fantasy novels, so Bardugo had a lot to live up to in my mind – and she nailed it. From the first page, Bardugo thrusts the reader into another world with an intriguing 3rd person introduction, before switching to Alina's POV for the rest of the novel. Bardugo writes her settings vividly and expertly evokes the wanting, the adoration, the hatred, the desperation, and every other emotions swirling around inside her characters. This novel is a slow burn, taking its time as it builds the plot, setting, and develops the characters. In all, SHADOW AND BONE is a pleasant surprise that has me eagerly looking forward to more works written by Bardugo.
Highlights: The world building is excellently done, richly described. As far as villains go, the Darkling is one the best that I've read in a long time, simply because he is layered as a character. I still do not know how I feel about him, and I think that's a mark of a well-written and complex villain. Plus, there is a stunningly incredible map inside this book1. Alina's growth from taking the easy way out to taking the hard path made her very endearing to me.
Lowlights: For the most part, not much happens during the middle of the story. Most of the exciting parts happen right at the beginning and then at the end, with the middle being more about Alina struggling and coming to terms with her Grisha side. It wasn't enough to bother me that much, I was just surprised at the pacing of the story.
Cover: Excuse me while I fangirl over that cover art. I'm a fan of illustrated covers, and this one is exceptional. Simple, with a nice mixture of light and dark swirls (and I love how the lighter ones also resemble antlers). It perfectly portrays significant aspects of the novel visually.
1 I love maps. Maps in books = awesome. Seriously, just look at it:
It was interesting pacing, wasn't it? But it really worked -- I never felt the pace slowed or anything. LOVED THIS STORY!!ReplyDelete
The pacing surprised me, but I think it did work for the story. YAY, so glad you loved this book too!Delete
I really enjoyed this book as well and so glad you did too! I was a huge fan of the world-building as well. It was brilliant and I thought one of the best settings that I've read in awhile. (I love maps in books too!) I can't wait for the next book! Great review, Lea!ReplyDelete
The world-building was excellent! So richly described and vivid. I agree, it's definitely one of the better settings!Delete
I think more books should have maps. They are awesome ;)
The world building and characters sound so well done. I have been eyeing these for a while!ReplyDelete
Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog
The worldbuilding is fantastic. You should check S&B out!Delete
I actually met the author last year and I have this one sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. I don't know why it's taken me so long to get to, but I need to pick it up soon. It's so refreshign to read that the world building was done right, I feel like many YA authors either over explain or assume we know what they're thinking. Great reveiw!ReplyDelete
I met her once at a signing too - she was so nice! You absolutely need to get started reading ASAP, this book is fabulous! The world is described perfectly, not too much or too little. I hope you enjoy S&B once you get a chance to read it!Delete
YEAH LEA!!!!! I absolutely adored this book too, I'm so glad you loved it. The world-building was fantastic and I agree with you completely on the Darkling. I couldn't quite figure him or his motivations out and I really liked it that way. I can't wait to see what you think of Siege & Storm!ReplyDelete
Wasn't it amazing???!!! I'm happy you loved it as well. The Darkling was very fascinating and complex, I'm excited to learn more about his character. I'm starting S&S soon, hopefully it's as great as S&B!Delete
Yay! Awesome review sweetie :D I'm so glad you loved this book, and that you finally read it ;) Sigh, omg. The map is GORGEOUS! Yess. I love it so much :)ReplyDelete
The map is so gorgeous! I would totally put a poster of it on my wall, if I could.Delete
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I love the cover and I'm such a fan of maps <3 It adds something to the story and I kept flipping back and forth! The world-building is definitely one of the best aspects in this book, but you got to love The Darkling :DReplyDelete
The cover is so stunning! I kept flipping back to the map too, it's fun to keep track of where the characters are during the story :)Delete
Ooh, the Darkling. So complicated. I hate him, but I love him ;)
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That map is awesome! Love when fantasy novels have those. It can sometimes help. I really look forward to starting this series. :)ReplyDelete
Fantasy books are so much better when they have maps! I always like to keep track of where the characters all are :)Delete
I hope you like S&B once you start reading!
YES, YES, YES! I loved this book! I agree 100% about the Darkling. I don't know what to think about him either! He shocked me more than once, that's for sure! I'm glad you loved this too!ReplyDelete
So happy you loved S&B! Oh, the Darkling. He's such a complicated character. I was constantly changing my mind about him while reading ;)Delete
I was neutral on this book initially but the more I thought about it, the more fondly I reflect on it. I am now officially dying for the second book!ReplyDelete
The first time I read it, I was going to give a 4. After rereading it, I loved it even more. So weird how that happens! Glad you like a bit more now :)Delete
Yes YES!! Completely agree!!! Love the cover art and chapter art, the exquisite map, and the Darkling!! I feel a bit conflicted over the Darkling, too, because I admit I was completely taken under his spell and wasn't expecting that twist! But I'm definitely Team Mal in this one.ReplyDelete
Whoever did all of the design / artwork deserves some serious praise, because this book is gorgeous. I'm definitely on Mal's side too, but the Darkling managed to get me on his side for awhile too. Darn him!Delete
Great review. I loved this book. I was totally shocked about the Darkling. I wonder if they'll add more elements to him like Warner in the Shatter Me books or if he'll stay a pure villain.ReplyDelete
Wasn't it amazing? The Darkling was definitely a surprise. I'm curious to see what Bardugo does with his character too.Delete
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Great review! Shadow and Bone was one of my favorite books from last year, and I'm glad that you gave it a chance. I'm generally not a huge fan of love triangles, but I like the Darkling quite a bit anyway. And the whole "chosen one" theme never gets old for me. I haven't read Siege and Storm yet myself, but I'm hoping that both of us can get to it soon!ReplyDelete
Zaira Lynn (Sell Gold)