I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: The Grisha #1
Published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers on June 5th 2012
Genres: High Fantasy, Young Adult
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The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to 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?
Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.
Damn you, Leigh Bardugo. Damn you for tricking me.
Leigh Bardugo is like some kind of literary crouching tiger, hidden dragon or something.
You would be forgiven, upon commencing this novel, for thinking Shadow and Bone is redundant, cliched piece of tripe book with poor story-telling, average writing and a predictable plot. People who haven’t read countless Young Adult novels probably wouldn’t notice the trends, but I did. This is what I thought and Leigh led me down the primrose path until… BOOM!
Game change. Glorious, glorious game change. Black is white, up is down, you are not secretly attracted to me. EVERYTHING CHANGES.
Kaching. Lights on. Real show begins and we hope you enjoyed that prelude. Also, while you weren’t looking, we falcon-punched your ovaries.
The themes of Shadow and Bone center around power, and the struggle for it. What does it mean? What is it worth? What do you do with it? Also, there’s love and romancey stuff for those who care for such things – and who have a functioning heart.
More importantly, for me, was the violence, court intrigue and sexy times of which make up some part of this novel. These aspects were definitely there but they were flirted with. I would have liked more of these and a little less of the boarding-house shenanigans and bitchy-mean girl drama. It was outside these factors that I loved the novel.
It’s strengths definitely rely on its characters and powerful storyline because the actual narration and writing tended toward the telling as opposed to showing side.
Alexei’s fingers slipped on the railing. I lunged forward and grabbed his arm.
“Hold on!” I cried.
Then the flame vanished, and in the darkness I felt Alexei’s fingers pulled from mine.
“Alexei!” I shouted.
His screams faded into the sounds of battle as the volca carried him into the dark. Another burst of flame lit the sky, but he was gone.
Still, I’m wondering if maybe the things I loved most about Shadow and Bone will be carried on in the next novel. To the very last page I loved the Darkling – not because he was sexy – but for the dark, rawness of his character. The dynamic it played with Alina in how she saw herself. Identity, concepts of misplaced idealism. Lust, love, ownership vs freely given love. It was all there amidst a world-building that was surprisingly lite for this caliber of novel – yet hinted at so much more.
Overall, a great read and I look forward to the next book where Leigh will probably rip out my still-beating heart and feed it to a raging bear while I applaud in amazement. Or, you know, something synonymous.