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 fulfil 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? Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.
- ISBN10 0805094598
- ISBN13 9780805094596
- Publish Date 5 June 2012 (first published 3 May 2012)
- Publish Status Active
- Publish Country US
- Imprint St Martin's Press
- Format Hardcover
- Pages 368
- Language English
I’ve had Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo on my TBR for a while now. I needed to finally read it since the book series has been adapted into a Netflix series. (The trailer had me intrigued the minute I saw it and knew I had to push this series up on my TBR to read.) I’m so glad I made time to read it, and now I’m onto the second book. (Yup, it’s that good that I couldn’t wait to start the second book.)
Storyline/My Thoughts: First, let me say I finished Shadow and Bone in one day. It’s been a LONG time I read a book in one day. I gave the first book to the Shadow and Bone Trilogy five stars and can’t wait to continue reading this trilogy/series. I’ve found a new author who is becoming an auto-buy author. I’m already buying all her books to add to my library at home. (My husband keeps shaking his head because my library has gone overboard at home. He doesn’t understand. I love having the actual books to look at throughout the day in our office area.)
Leigh Bardugo had me from the first page to the last page. I had a hard time putting down this book to do anything else. I even forgot to eat lunch because of this book. Leigh’s Bardugo’s world-building in this Grishaverse is fantastic, especially since the setting and world are all made-up. I found myself imagining I was in the world with the characters because of how detailed Leigh was in this book.
The main character Alina Starkov is an orphan and works for the First Army as a mapmaker. (There is First and Second Army. One made of humans (no powers) and the other that has powerful Grishas’ with different abilities.) Alina is described as a plain-jane without powers. (She’s not a plain-jane to me. She’s beautiful and unique.) No one notices her until something unexpected happens when her best friend Mal is in danger. Mal is the boy she grew up with, who was also an orphan, and she secretly loves him. (I love when characters fall for their best friends.) Now Alina has the attention of the most potent Grisha ever, known as the Darkling. Alina is forced into a world that she knows nothing about, and she is told she can save the world. She leaves behind everything she has ever known to become something she doesn’t believe she can do. Alina is one kick-butt character who would rather not stand up but will do what she has to make things right. (I don’t want to give anything away, so trying not to spoil for anyone who hasn’t read this trilogy yet.)
I enjoyed the magical elements in this book and getting to know the different Grisha and their powers. The Darkling himself is very mysterious. I didn’t know if I liked him or not because of how he came off to Alina. There is something dark about him that he is hiding from everyone and his true intentions with Alina. I liked his character, though, due to the mystery. Also, I loved how Leigh Bardugo described him. Yup, he’s one you either like or don’t like.
Now, Mal, who is Alina’s best friend, was mentioned at the beginning of the book and towards the end. Alina mentions him a lot through the book and how he was always there. I didn’t connect with him until towards the end, when he’s there for Alina. It took her being on the run for him to realize how much he cares for her.
There is a slight love triangle in this book, but barely. Alina is confused, and I can understand her confusion initially, but then she becomes frustrated. I mean, wouldn’t you be confused after being typical one day and a Grisha the next day. The poor girl is supposed to save the world from the Fold (which is the darkness with horrible creatures.)
The book’s ending had me on the edge of the seat because I suspected it of going one way, but Alina surprised me. I love her strength and courage. The book leaves readers off with a cliffhanger, so be prepared to pick up the next book right away.
Standalone or Part of Series: It’s part of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy. It’s also part of the Grishaverse world.
Would I recommend this book? Yes. If you are a fan of the Young Adult Fantasy genre, you’ll enjoy this book/series by Leigh Bardugo.
I can’t wait to watch the Netflix tv series now of this series. This is why I’m powering through the Grishaverse books written by Leigh Bardugo. I need to read the books first and then watch the show. I can’t wait to see this world and characters come to life.
P.S. I try every time to make my reviews show, but it’s impossible when I want to brag about a book I loved.
Eh, I'm feeling generous so 3.5 stars. For now, at least. I feel like Shadow and Bone is yet another victim of the hype monster - I probably would have enjoyed it more if I read it a few years earlier and managed to avoid all the minor spoilers surrounding it.
So many things annoyed me with this book, including, but limited to Alina, the Darkling (yep, that's right, I'm not really a fan), all the telling-and-not-showing, the romance, and how easy it was to predict. Still, the magic system is quite interesting and so is the whole premise of the story.
I don't regret reading it, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series, but I'm also not blown away by it like everyone else seems to be.
Full review to come.
I know, I know! How dare I speak ill of the Grishaverse!
I gave this one five stars on my first read, but really, it was more of a four star book for me at the time. That rating and giving into the pressure to round up on a book because it is so popular has haunted me.
As a piece of literature, I'm sorry, but Shadow and Bone just isn't that impressive. I understand why people love these books because I agree that the world is positively fascinating, doubly so for what was out there in the realm of fantasy at the time (non-western European fantasy settings are still too uncommon, but there's been leaps and bounds in recent times). I think people love the Grishaverse mostly for its characters.
And that's where I fall short. I don't love Alina. I don't love Mal. I really don't love the Darkling. I remember loving Genya last time, and while I don't love her this time, I am interested in her character.
I don't think Shadow and Bone holds up as well to rereads, particularly after reading Six of Crows and seeing what Bardugo is capable of. But every great story has to start somewhere!
Original Review 2/22/2017
In a YA fantasy world where everything is all about the romantic relationships, this was a breath of fresh air. At times I think Bardugo wanted the romance to take over, but this didn’t read like a romance to me at all. Which was nice. Because I like plots.
I didn’t find the male characters particularly impressive – Mal and the Darkling are pretty much the only ones we see, although I did like Alexei at the beginning. However, I did enjoy Alina, Genya, and Zoya. I thought Alina was genuine and reactive while Genya was sweet and smart. If the story had gone in that direction, I think that Alina and Genya would have made an excellent team… but of course we followed the relationship instead of the friendship.
Zoya was an interesting character. She only appeared a couple times, but always with importance. I suspect Bardugo was just playing her up as the “mean girl” but honestly, I would like to see her come back as someone who switches sides. Baghra as well seemed to be a character with a lot more to offer… I hope we see her again as well.
Maybe it’s because I read this in February, but Shadow and Bone felt cold. Despite the fact that Bardugo describes sunshine and the sea and the lake where the Summoners practice… the vibe I got from this story was very “tundra, dark, despairing, gloomy”. Which I liked. A lot. I love my forest-based fantasies, but every once and a while it’s nice to have something a little different!
Although she doesn’t go deeply into detail about it, the concept of Small Science is so important to this story. Magic must always have rules and reason and limitation. Most stories don’t discuss this as all, even to have it mentioned as a theory, but I like knowing that Bardugo has really thought this through.
The concept of the superficial monarchy and the rise of the Grisha is also and interesting element to this world. We are shown hierarchy and chaos in the first chapters of the story, and it will keep everything structured.
At the surface, this definitely comes off as a one of those girl-of-ultimate-power, oh-no-who-should-I-love? gushy YA stories that we’re all getting pretty tired of. The thing that kept me on board here was the fact that every time Alina got kissed… something went down. She had no time to really *enjoy* the sensation or be all gooey about it because something immediately more pressing required her attention – and she actually dealt with it. Yes! Thank you!
On a serious note – yes, we’ve more or less heard this story before. Good verses evil. How to handle power. It’s still a good story, though, and told in a refreshing enough way that yes, I want to know more.
Bardugo. Is. Wonderful. Her storytelling is simple enough that it leaves some things up to the imagination, but precise enough that you can see the Little Palace. She also makes a lot of choices that aren’t popular in YA literature right now, which makes her stand out as an author with confidence in her plot and characters rather than falling into too many cliche trends, which I really appreciate.
She does use some non-English terminology which may throw a reader not expecting it – like kefta, for example, but she always explains herself well and I feel as though these terms accent the storytelling rather than draw away from it.
Overall, I very much enjoyed the unexpected twists and turns in this story. I like Alina’s heart and look forward to seeing the next step of her adventure. The magic was interesting and smooth, and the dynamics between characters were interesting. There were many times I was ready to groan about a love triangle, but Bardugo used devices while simultaneously breaking cliches, which definitely gives her points in my book. I loved Shadow and Boneand will definitely be picking up Siege and Storm when I can.
Bardugo's Shadow and Bone Trilogy is meant to be set in a Tzarist Russia type world, which is where it failed its first test. Sure, there were some vaguely Russian-sounding names and words in it, but the world didn't feel even vaguely inspired by Russia. It just felt like generic fantasy-land with no depth and nothing unique to set it apart. Even the characters were nothing but a bunch of tropes thrown into a melting pot.
✅ The attractive male best friend that the protagonist is secretly in love with?
✅ A plain protagonist (who is actually pretty) whose main flaw is being clumsy?
✅ Broody, dark man for an obligatory love triangle?
✅ Pretty best friend?
✅ Beautiful mean girl?
The pacing of Shadow and Bone was excellent though. It moved everything along just as it should, even if the plot was a bit bland at times. Where this book really shone though was Alina's anti-hero moment. I liked this play on the hero trope, which I wish had been explored much more thoroughly. I think Bardugo's talents would have been served better had she not written this series as YA. I think it could have been explored a lot better as a High Fantasy series.
I'm going to keep going with the trilogy, as there was enough there to pique my interest, and it's an effortless read. If that's what you're looking for, it's worth picking up. If what you're looking for is a pleasant, weekend read, you could certainly do worse.