Review: Shadow and Bone

“You’re shaking,” he said.

“I’m not used to people trying to kill me.”

“Really? I hardly notice anymore.”

~Leigh Bardugo 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo 
356 pages 
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by: Square Fish, 2012
Re-readability: I don’t think I’ll return to this one. 
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by: Indiana 
Spoiler-free review

Synopsis from publisher: 
“A fantasy saga from #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo, the Shadow and Bone Trilogy is the story of Alina Starkov, a soldier in the kingdom of Ravka who discovers she possesses magical abilities. Training with the Grisha, her country’s magical military elite, Alina falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes she is the only one with the power to defeat the forces threatening the kingdom—forces that will test old alliances and challenge the very limits of magic, one that will forge a leader from a frightened girl.”

In this richly imagined tale, we get a little bit of everything: magic, adventure, near-death experiences, terrifying creatures, and, of course, a love triangle. 

In many ways it felt like a classic YA fantasy novel, as the orphaned heroine is plucked from an unsuccessful career as an army mapmaker to train her previously unknown magical abilities and save the world. There were compelling twists and turns throughout, some nearly impossible to guess at, a marking of a great storyteller. 

However, Alina’s character wavered around the edges and I struggled to fully imagine her. I thought I knew how she would react or think to certain situations and then she would react completely differently. Regardless, I enjoyed going along for the sometimes terrifying ride, as she tries to find a way to keep the volcra and the Unsea at bay. 

I also enjoyed simply being in the Grishaverse, though it feels as though we only scratched the surface of it. Though, I have to admit that I flipped the series order and read the Six of Crows duology before Shadow and Bone and felt like I learned much more about the Grishaverse in the former. 

I’m looking forward to Netflix’ adaptation of this one (which comes out on April 23) and in the meantime I plan to dig into Siege and Storm soon.

Anyone else read this series? What did you think of it?   

3 thoughts on “Review: Shadow and Bone

Add yours

  1. I just finished this book too! I loved the world, but like you, I struggled with Alina’s character. I think for me it was because she didn’t have any strong motivations, and just followed what others told her to do. I personally thought her character got better in the second book, but I still didn’t love her.

    Liked by 1 person

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