Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: The Grisha Trilogy (Book 1)
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
ISBN-10: 0805094598 (Macteen Books)
ISBN-13: 978-0805094596 (Macteen Books)
Reviewed by: Kristie
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.
Quick & Dirty: A dark and sinister fantasy that will leave you heartbroken yet filled with hope at the same time. An engaging world that borders on epic storytelling. The main character can be a little naïve at times but it suits her development as the story progresses.
Opening Sentence: The servants called them malenchki, little ghosts, because they were the smallest and the youngest, and because they haunted the Duke’s house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.
Alina Starkov and Malyen Oretsev grew up in an orphanage together. They were pretty much inseparable. When they left the orphanage they joined the King’s Army together. Although they were assigned different jobs they were still able to see each other and travel together. Alina and Mal have both been assigned to travel across the Shadow Fold, a mass of complete darkness where deadly creatures dwell. Alina travels as a mapmaker to draw the land on the other side while Mal travels as a Hunter/Tracker to catch some of the wild game to bring back to their country.
Travelling through the Shadow Fold is dangerous and for Alina and Mal this time is no exception. The boat they are travelling on is attacked by volcra, bird-like creatures that have a hunger for human flesh. Alina is protected by Mal from the attacking volcra but in the end she protects him by releasing an unknown power she didn’t realize she had. This brings her unwanted attention from the Darkling, the unspoken leader of the Grisha and one scary dude.
Grisha are people with some kind of magical/supernatural power. They are the second line of defense in the King’s Army. They are trained as children. All Grisha are beautiful people and Alina is very plain and skinny. She believes she doesn’t belong, that she doesn’t have any real power. Alina is ripped away from Mal and the life she knew to train in her powers and become a Grisha. She wants to belong with her new family and she tries to fit in as best she can but something inside of her still feels out of place. Alina misses Mal with all of her heart but she can’t help but feel attraction to the Darkling. As Alina gives in to her feelings, she learns that everything around her isn’t as it seems.
The world in Shadow and Bone is thrilling. It is a world used to war, darkness and Grisha. The mystery of Alina’s power, learning more about the Darkling, and Alina’s future in the world kept me captivated in the story. The pacing slows down a little bit while Alina is training but there are enough strange events happening to Alina while she is there that keep you wondering what that was about.
Alina is a little naïve at times as the story goes on. Sometimes she sticks by her decisions while at other times she doesn’t. She makes her decisions based on what will make her fit in better with the people around her. Alina isn’t the strongest person either but she learns that she is basically the only one that she can rely on.
Shadow and Bone is a dark young adult fantasy that is filled with mystery and political intrigue. The ending left me wanting more and I can’t wait for the next books in this trilogy. If you are a fan of young adult fantasy novels, I would recommend picking this one up.
I remembered standing at the window with Mal, watching the Grisha depart in their troika, how tired I’d felt. The next morning, I’d woken to find dark circles beneath my eyes. They’d been with me ever since.
And now? I asked myself, pressing my forehead against the cool wood of the door, my whole body shaking.
Now Mal had left me behind.
The only person in the world who truly knew me had decided I wasn’t worth the effort of a few words. But I was holding on still. Despite all of the luxuries of the Little Palace, despite my newfound powers, despite Mal’s silence, I held on.
Baghra was right. I’d thought I was making such an effort, but deep down, some part of me just wanted to go home to Mal. Some part of me hoped that this had all been a mistake, that the Darkling would realize his error and send me back to the regiment, that Mal would realize how much he’d missed me, that we’d grow old together in our meadow. Mal had moved on, but I was still standing frightened before those three mysterious figures, holding tight to his hand.
It was time to let go. That day on the Shadow Fold, Mal had saved my life, and I had saved his. Maybe that was meant to be the end of what we had shared.
The thought filled me with grief, grief for the dreams we’d shared, for the love I’d felt, for the hopeful girl I would never be again. That grief flooded through me, dissolving a knot inside me that I hadn’t even known was there. I closed my eyes, feeling tears slide down my cheeks, and I reached out to the thing within me that I’d kept hidden for so long. I’m sorry, I said. I’m sorry, but I’m ready now.
The Grisha Trilogy:
2. Siege and Storm
3. Ruin and Rising
FTC Advisory: Henry Holt/Macmillan provided me with a copy of Shadow and Bone. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.