Review: Shadow and Bone

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.

Review: Shadow and BoneShadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #1
Published by Henry Holt BFYR on June 5, 2012
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 358
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

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.

First Sentence: “The servants called them malenchki, little ghosts, because they were the smallest and the youngest, and because they haunted the Duke’s house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.”

Guys, this book was hyped up like WHOA. Whenever that happens, I make sure to put on my skeptical hat, because usually the book ends up being all kinds of disappointing. Not so Shadow and Bone. Leigh Bardugo, you are officially a badass. This book was completely amazing. I would have read it in a matter of hours, had I not been at BEA. Oh, and, I spent some time with the folks at Macmillan, and both of the people I talked to said that this was by far their favorite book of the season, so yeah.

I love epic fantasy and I also love Russian things. While not set in the real Russia, Shadow and Bone‘s setting is very Russia-like. The country is Ravka. The fantasy elements are incredibly cool, with the Grisha powers ranking almost Cashore level of original (which is as high as it gets). The Shadow Fold and the volcra, too, are so creepy and fascinating.

Speaking of creepy and fascinating, I have to talk about the Darkling. From the first scene where he appeared, he totally captured me, even though I was pretty sure he was a terrible guy. Seriously, he is like majorly alluring. I don’t know whether I should root for him or not, because he’s got this whole evil dictator vibe, but also seems like he might be better deep down. I don’t usually go for bad boys (although that seems a bit mild for the Darkling), but wow.

Of course, he’s not the only man candy in this book. Yes, there is a love triangle, but I declare myself okay with this one, so no worries. The other guy is Mal, Alina’s childhood friend, who she’s been hopelessly in love with for ages. I have to say that I was pretty much immediately into him as well, mostly because his name is Mal. In my head, I see Malcolm Reynolds, so he has to be awesome.

Alina starts out pretty weak, although still with some serious gumption. It was an utter pleasure watching her grow and discover herself. I also really liked the way she changed as she came into her powers. Bardugo has written such a wonderful metaphor for what subverting your real self does to you. By the end of the book, Alina is a definite heroine.

What I hate about this book is knowing how long I probably have to wait for more! The ending of Shadow and Bone isn’t a cliffhanger, but there’s still tons that needs to be resolved and waiting is going to be painful. I need to procure a copy of this for myself, and so do you!

Favorite Quote:

I threw up my hands in exasperation. “Stop him from doing what?”
“Using the Fold as a weapon.”
“I see,” I said. “Does he also plan to build a summer home there?”

13 responses to “Review: Shadow and Bone”

  1. Blook Girl says:

    GREAT review! I am so incredibly excited for Shadow and Bone. Leigh will be here on Wednesday as part of the Fierce Reads tour and I will _finally_ have this gorgeous book in my grubby hands 🙂

    I agree about uber-hype books. I always worry. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised; more often than not, I’m disappointed. Thankfully, it sounds like Shadow and Bone will surpass my expectations!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

    • Christina says:

      I totally missed this comment before. So glad I found it!

      Anyway, I don’t want to be the one to cross the overhype line, but I loved it. I know that some people have had issues with the Russian elements not being accurate, but I’m not especially bothered, since it’s Russian-based fantasy. Whatevs to me, although their points are valid.

      Some people had trouble with the characters initially. Again, I see where they’re coming from, but I liked Alina right away. Mal took me some time to connect to, but I think that may have been by design.

      Hope you like it!

  2. Nori says:

    I knew you’d love this one! I actually went and bought my own copy that’s not a digital freebie that I got from Net Galley. I rarely buy books now that I get for free digitally. But this one, I know I will read again. It’s definitely one of my favorites of the year so far.

    • Christina says:

      You were right! This is why I listen to your recommendations when you specifically tell me. We don’t always see eye to eye, but you know what I like, haha.

      I buy ones I get digitally fairly often. Digital copies mean nothing to me. I don’t feel like I own a book unless it’s sitting pretty on my shelf.

  3. Amber says:

    This sounds like a great read! Like you, I’m interested that this is set in a Russia-like setting and I’ve been really into fantasy lately. I’m especially interested in this novel because I love heroines that show growth. Thanks for the awesome review!

    • Christina says:

      Fantasy is awesome. I’ve been into it for…well, a long time. My favorites are when you can see the characters maturing throughout the story. That’s why I love the manga Fruitsbasket so much, which really is a random transition, but I don’t care because it’s my blog and I’m sleepy!

  4. Kayla Beck says:

    When you rate books higher than a 3, I immediately move them higher up on my list. 😛

  5. Belgie says:

    I love the world that the author has created it sucks you in from start to finish. What I really appreciated about this book was that it kept me guessing and it had several shockers that I did not see coming. The author also had a way of making you love all the characters even the villans. This is a must read.

  6. Stephanie T. says:

    I read the book and I have to agree with you about the reviews of it being SO hyped up, and I was a little hesitant to read this, but this was 10 times better than I expected it to be. The Darkling was pretty suspicious since he first made his appearance. Halfway through the novel, when there was that huge plot twist and everything changed, I just didn’t know what to do. I can’t choose a team. I cared for all of the characters. The wait for the next book is going to be a long one. I fell in love with Leigh’s writing and have to get my own copy of the book.

    • Christina says:

      I am totally with you on that. At first I was all ‘I see what you’re up to Darkling,’ but then I was conflicted.

      Intellectually, I know Mal is the right choice, and he is a pretty great guy, womanizing at the opening aside. However, the Darkling…he’s just…WANT.

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