Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (UK edition)

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (UK edition)

Title: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha: Book 1)
Authors: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher:  Indigo (6th June 2013)
Blurb:

‘I’ve been waiting for you
a long time, Alina,’ he said.
‘You and I are going to change the world.’

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the world of the kingdom’s magical elite – the Grisha. Could she be the key to setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a man of seductive charm and terrifying power. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must 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?

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)
Review:

SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo is the first book in her magical The Grisha trilogy. This book begins the story of the lonely orphan Alina, and introduces us to the world of the Grisha – the kingdom’s magical elite. Alina thinks herself ordinary – not special in any way – but then she discovers that she has a unique magical power and is thrust into a strange, heady, new world full of opulence and danger. SHADOW AND BONE presents the mysterious Darkling, the leader of the Grisha: a charming and powerful man. It also introduces us to Mal, Aliana’s childhood best friend.

SHADOW AND BONE has sat on my to-be-read list for a while. The blurb of the book intrigued me and a lot of book bloggers seem to have really enjoyed the trilogy. I picked it up in a bookstore and read the first ten or so pages, and although it sounded interesting something in me hesitated. I can’t quite put my finger on why. Still, I asked for and received SHADOW AND BONE for my birthday and let it sit on my self for a while before diving in. There are certainly many elements of this book that I enjoyed.

Bardugo introduces us to a strange new world in The Shadow Fold; I get a few Russian vibes from the world, though I can’t pinpoint why. The world seems to be a strange mixture of magic and science; it leans more to the magical than the scientific though. The Grisha stand apart, they have an almost magic-like power that they use scientific theory to control; and The Darkling is their leader. Alina is introduced to this heady and competitive world after the discovery of her power. It means leaving everything and everyone she knows behind, but she could be the key to saving Ravka.

Plot wise I’ll be honest, SHADOW AND BONE did not blow me away. The story is pretty engrossing and the plot itself is interesting, however this book plays with the idea of the plot twist and to me it felt like everything in the final quarter of the book came out of nowhere. There was little to no set-up for any of the twists in my opinion, and whilst I was wondering when the other shoe was going to drop I don’t think there was anything in the narrative to hint that there was more going on than there appeared. Having said that, I did enjoy the overall narrative and I am curious about how Bardugo will continue the story.

Alina narrates the story, so we get to see events unfold from her point of view. I thought she was a good solid narrator, and Bardugo gives her a clear voice. I did find her to be a little flighty at times; she seemed to take everything in her stride, and sometimes jumped to conclusions that I didn’t really think the narrative wholly supported. Bardugo included some interesting secondary characters, including Mal and The Darkling but they felt a little flat. This may in part be due to the use of first person narration.

Overall although I did not love SHADOW AND BONE I did really enjoy reading it. If you’re looking for a slightly darker than normal young adult fantasy novel with an almost Russian fairy tale feel, then it is well worth checking this book out. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, and I actually really enjoyed the bonus material that came with my copy of this book. I think it added another dimension to Mal, and is well worth reading once you’ve finished the main story.

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