Title: Shadow and Bone
Series: Grisha Trilogy #1
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: June 5th, 2012 (Henry Holt and Co)
Synopsis: 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.
“Why can a Grisha possess but one amplifier?
I will answer this question instead: What is infinite?
The universe and the greed of men.”
For many years, the kingdom of Ravka has been split in half by the Fold, a sea of darkness inhabited by monsters known as Volcra. Alina and Mal are orphans who grew up together in Keramzin, one of the many homes across Ravka for war-orphans, and eventually join the First Army. But when their regiment makes the dangerous crossing through the Fold, Mal is injured during an attack by the Volcra, and a power Alina never knew she possessed rises up and saves them. This power, the ability to summon light, makes Alina not only one of the Grisha, the magical elite of the Second Army, but also the first of her kind, the Sun Summoner – and the hope of Ravka, that she is destined to destroy the Fold which has wreaked havoc on the war-torn kingdom. Under the guidance of the enigmatic Darkling, Alina struggles to wield her powers which have lain dormant for so long, but the gilded world of the Grisha and the royal court holds many secrets, and no one is what they seem.
As always with my reread reviews, this is spoiler free and (mostly) unbiased due to events in the following books. I enjoyed this reread far more than I did when I read this book for the first time, mostly because reading Six of Crows first had me completely confused about Grisha and exactly what they were and the scope of their powers. But now that I understood the background and just took the time to enjoy the story, it was so much more fun. Ravka is inspired by a combination of Russian folklore and mythology, something I’m not really familiar with, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are also allusions to so many other nations with varied cultures, and I’m really looking forward to learning more about them over the course of the series.
Alina is your typical YA heroine, a pretty likeable sort, and a great protagonist with so much scope for some very interesting character development, especially going forward. Then there was Mal. The strong friendship he and Alina have shared since childhood is admirable, it really is, but just like on the first read, I didn’t see the appeal. And honestly, there were times in this series when I found Mal to be just downright irritating – but more on that in my review of the next book. And the Darkling. Where do I even start! I have been reading books in this genre for pretty much as long as I can remember, and, to date, I have yet to come across a villain I enjoyed more than the Darkling. I know he’s evil, but it’s so hard not to ship him and Alina.
Shadow and Bone is a wonderful book, and it’s very easy to just fly through it. I would suggest slowing down though, and taking the time to enjoy this thoroughly entertaining read. Yes, it has some (a lot) cliched tropes and cheesy moments, but somehow this took a different turn out of the blue and managed to shock me completely! Highly, highly recommended! Also, have I mentioned how excited I am that this is becoming a Netflix show?
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: