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.
Description taken from Goodreads.
Throughout the years, I’ve picked up Shadow & Bone at least a half-dozen times in the attempt to love it, but I could just never get through it. It never stuck with me. I rarely ever truly understood what was going on, and I didn’t dedicate myself to the characters.
And then Six of Crows came along.
If you’re like me and you’re generally pretty new to the Leigh Bardugo following, here’s a note: If you didn’t read or didn’t understand Shadow & Bone, go on to Six of Crows first and then come back to the Grisha trilogy. Strangely enough, Six of Crows makes all the magical divisions more concise and easier to understand. It also goes through the world of the Grisha much better than the first series did.
With that in mind, the hype around Shadow & Bone is entirely deserved. The book didn’t absolutely blow me away from the beginning like Six of Crows did, but I fell in love with the characters and the world and the narrative and everything that Bardugo had to offer. I got to re-encounter the magic in the Grishaverse all over again, and I got the chance to understand everything better.
It was nice to see how Bardugo’s writing has progressed over the years, but more than that, there was MAL AND ALINA AND THE DARKLING.
After all the talk about the Darkling, I won’t lie: I was disappointed by him. I felt like I didn’t see enough of him in this novel to really grasp why everyone loves him so much. Granted, I loved the way that Bardugo showed Alina’s trust in him and the way that he had manipulated her. It was almost as masterful as Amy Christine Parker’s crazily enchanting cult novel, and I had to give the Darkling credit for that.
And the plot. Oh, the plot. I didn’t expect this story to come out the way it did, and it was perfect. The ending was a little cheesy, but THE PLOT. Bardugo managed to make everything based around the characters, making them seem more realistic and bringing everything together seamlessly. The plot flows and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey that the story took me on.
Finally, Mal and Alina. I can’t say I ship this couple as an OTP, but that’s a possibility for the later books. I’m stilling waiting out to make final calls about a lot of things, but as of right now, I’m not on the side of the Darkling. Mal’s always been there for Alina, Alina denied everything about herself to be with Mal and they’re meant to be together.
I didn’t love everything about Shadow & Bone, but I’m looking forward to the next book and if you enjoy fantasy, this is a must read.
And by the way, those Grisha coats (I love their name but for the life of me, I can’t remember it right now) are worthy of even Kell’s coat of many coats.
pg count for the hardback: 358
Series: The Grisha #1