August 8, 2012
Title: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, the one thing she could rely on was her best friend and fellow refugee, Mal. And lately not even that seems certain. Drafted into the army of their war-torn homeland, they’re sent on a dangerous mission into the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. When their convoy is attacked, all seems lost until Alina reveals a dormant power that not even she knew existed. Ripped from everything she knows, she is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. He believes she is the answer the people have been waiting for: the one person with the power to destroy the Fold. Swept up in a world of luxury and illusion, envied as the Darkling’s favorite, Alina struggles to fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But as the threat to the kingdom mounts, Alina uncovers a secret that sets her on a collision course with the most powerful forces in the kingdom. Now only her past can save her . . . and only she can save the future.
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- Christina really enjoyed this novel and places it on her second shelf with a solid 4.5 rating!
This might be, by far, the hardest review I’ve had to write to date. It will probably be very vague, but the twists and turns that will repeatedly catch you off guard along the way is one of the greatest notes I can make about this book, and so I’d never want to ruin the element of surprise for you. I also believe that no amount of hype or how much I flail over it would adequately give this book the credit it’s due because it’s just too good to put into words. I still can’t wrap my mind around all of it. That being said, let’s get into the review, shall we?
The Low-Down: All Alina Starkov’s life, she has remained on the edge of the crowd, never anything particularly special about her that would garner the attention of anyone. Orphaned at an early age because of the Border Wars, she has no real family and finds her only companionship in her best friend and long-time crush, Mal. Fast forward into their teenage years and they’re both serving in the First Army, Alina as a mapmaker and Mal as a tracker and soldier since they both failed in their Grisha (more on them later) testing. On a particular mission to pass through the Fold, a barren dessert wasteland filled with darkness and fleshing-eating monsters, their convoy is attacked. Scared out of her mind and desperate to save Mal’s life, Alina unleashes a magnificent power that even she didn’t know she possesses. With the ability to summon sunlight, Alina is swept up by the Grisha and rushed away to the royal court, where they hope to help her learn how to harness this great and rare ability. Alina’s life is about to change in every single way possible, and Shadow and Bone takes you along for the journey.
Author Ego-Booster: Leigh Bardugo has created a world unlike anything I’ve ever read, and it played out in my mind like one visually stunning movie scene after the next. I could picture the war-torn country, the palace, the Grisha, the training, and all of the other special elements that aided in perfecting this masterful tale of magic, betrayal, and triumph. It was easy to become immersed in the story and feel very much a part of it, experiencing all the highs and lows and the bumps in between right alongside the characters. This book felt as though it were a giant race to the finish line that will have your heart pounding out of your chest or plummeting down to your stomach or lodged in your throat at the turn of every page. I loved being swept away in it, and this author’s show-and-don’t-tell approach in which she hits all the major senses doesn’t leave you feeling short-changed about any aspect of this story.
I also think one of the biggest testaments to Ms. Bardugo’s writing ability (if I am in any way able to “judge” this) is how carefully crafted all of her characters are in Shadow and Bone. She makes sure they each perform and execut a particular role, thus making each character integral to the story-line. No one felt out of place or was seemingly used as a filler; even the servants in the royal palace had a bit of depth. To say I was blown away would almost be an understatement. Out of all the characters, though, I found myself intrigued by the Darkling the most. He’s the most powerful of the Grisha, an order of elite humans gifted with certain magical abilities that serve the King, and there’s so many layers to him already, but I still like there’s still much left to discover with him, like we’ve only began to barely scratch the surface. (This is only my gut instinct; I could be wrong.) I won’t go into specifics, but I will say that even though Mal had me swooning like crazy, I’m definitely pulling for the dark horse in this race. Call me crazy (I often do myself), but there’s something about this guy that I just can’t seem to shrug off. Maybe it’s because of this…
“His hand slid down my hip. I felt a little trill of panic as my skirt slid higher and his fingers closed in on my bare thigh, but instead of pulling away, I pushed closer to him.”
Drawbacks: The only fault I could find with this book is the complexity in the hierarchy of the Grisha. Matching the colors of their keftas with their rank within the Grisha system and want powers they possessed were a bit confusing at the beginning of the book. There is a guide at the start that breaks it down for you, but after a while, I found that I didn’t even need to reference it any more.
Verdict: I loved this book, and I know any fantasy fan will love it, too. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of the fantasy genre, I still think you should give it a go. I’m also thrilled that I purchased my own copy because this book is gorgeous! From the slip cover, to the map inside of Ravka, to the embellishments at the heading and footing of the pages, it’s a very pretty, artsy presentation. And you know me, I’m all about the pretty!