Sunday, September 2, 2012

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Shadow and Bone 
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Pages: 358
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Series: The Grisha #1
Released: June 5th, 2012

 *Note:* I'm trying out a new review format! Love it? Hate it? I would really really appreciate it if you would leave me some feedback in the comments if you read this review :]

I. The Story

"My great-great-great-grandfather was the Black Heretic, the Darkling who created the Shadow Fold. It was a mistake, an experiment born of his greed, maybe his evil...I've spent my life searching for a way to make things right. You're the first glimmer of hope I've had in a long time." (p. 81)
Alina Starkov and her best friend Mal were orphaned during the border wars. When they are drafted into the First Army, they are sent on a dangerous mission to cross the Shadow Fold, an unnatural darkness that divides the land of Ravka and is home to the man-eating volcra. During the crossing they are attacked, and Alina inadvertently saves them when in her desperation she discovers a power within her that had lain dormant. Alina is taken away to be trained as a Grisha, powerful magic-users who are led by the Darkling. The Darkling believes that Alina is the one person who can destroy the Shadow Fold.

II. Our Heroine: Alina Starkov

"Hey!" shouted the soldier. "Watch yourself!"
"Why don't you watch your fat feet?" I snapped, and took some satisfaction from the surprise that came over his broad face. People, particularly big men carrying big rifles, don't expect lip from a scrawny thing like me. They always look a bit dazed when they get it. (p.8)
Alina is a strong character with lots of internal struggles. As an orphan she has never felt that she belongs anywhere, except with her friend Mal. When she discovers she is a Grisha, she has to come to terms with her new power and figure out how to use it and where she fits into this new world. She was a great heroine with both strengths and weaknesses, virtues and flaws, and I really liked her! However I was annoyed by her poor self-image--what is up with all these YA heroines hating on their physical appearance? :P

III. Our Villain: The Shadow Fold (Or Unsea)

"Somewhere in the crowd, someone was singing. Singing? What idiot is singing on his way into the Fold? I glanced again at that smudge on the horizon and had to suppress a shudder...I looked down onto the ruined farms of the Tula...One day it was a place where farmers tended crops and sheep grazed in fields. The next, a dark slash had appeared on the landscape, a swath of nearly impenetrable darkness that grew with every passing year and crawled with horrors." (p. 9-10)
In Shadow and Bone the villain isn't a who so much as it is a what. The idea of the Shadow Fold was interesting, and definitely not a place I'd like to go! The author did a good job of creating tension/foreboding so that when the characters are in the Fold you are on the edge of your seat. I mean, its ever-present darkness filled with hundred upon hundreds of winged, man-eating monsters--that's at least a little creepy!

IV. Main Characters

  • Mal (Malyen Oretsev)
 "No fainting in the middle of the road." said a voice close to my ear as a heavy arm landed across my shoulders and gave me a squeeze. I looked up to see Mal's familiar face, a smile in his bright eyes as he fell into step beside me. (p. 10)
 Mal was an easy-going, sarcastic, likable guy, and an extremely talented tracker. I really liked the relationship between him and Alina, how as orphans they always stuck together. The romance took a little longer to grow on me, mostly because Mal isn't present during the middle part of the book so I didn't get to know his character as well as I would have liked, but by the end he won me over ;]

  • The Darkling
"I stared, torn between fear and fascination. He's too young, I thought. This Darkling had been commanding the the Grisha since before I was born, but the man seated above me on the dais didn't look much older than I did. He had a sharp, beautiful face, a shock of thick black hair, and clear gray eyes that glimmered like quartz. I knew that the more powerful Grishas were said to live long lives, and Darklings were the most powerful of them all. But I felt the wrongness of it and I remembered Eva's words: He's not natural. None of them are. (p.41)
I found the Darkling to be a very intriguing character. He was brooding, handsome, charming, and, well...dark. And it only adds to his mystery that no one knows his real name. I wasn't sure whether I should fear him or love him, and that combination made him even more attractive to me.

V. The Setting: The Little Palace in Ravka

"It was a strange name, because though it was smaller than the Grand Palace, the "Little" Palace was still huge. It rose from the trees surrounding it like something carved from an enchanted forest, a cluster of dark wood walls and golden domes. As we drew closer, I saw that every inch of it was covered in intricate carvings of birds and flowers, twisting vines, and magical beasts." (p. 86)
The world that Leigh Bardugo creates in Shadow and Bone (Ravka) is not only interesting and captivating, but it is full of details that makes it come alive. By the end of the book, I felt as though it was a real place. I especially loved the Russian feel to the book with the character's and places names, some of the dialect, the cold climate, and fur clothing.

The Grisha live in the Little Palace and are led by the Darkling. The whole order of the different types of Grisha was difficult to grasp at first and I wish it had been better explained what all they could do, but overall I thought the idea was very interesting. Basically there is the Order of the Living and the Dead (Corporalki), made up of Grisha whose power allows them to heal or kill. Then there is the Order of Summoners (Etherealki), who can summon elements such as wind, water, and fire. Lastly, there is the Order of Fabrikators (Materialki), who use their powers to create things. Each Grisha wears a different colored robe called a kefta depending on what they can do.

VI. To Read Or Not To Read? 

Shadow and Bone is a little confusing at first, but it sucks you right in. I'll be honest, at first I was a little uncertain because I didn't think the book was living up to all of the hype. But in the second half it really delivers! That's all I'll say about that ;] I loved the interesting world Leigh Bardugo created, and I can't wait to visit it again in the sequel, Seige and Storm!

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
Creativity/Originality: 4/5
Kept me interested: 5/5


  1. I like how you broke down each aspect of the book, I've read so many glowing reviews and now I must get my hands on a copy!! Lovely review :)

    Book a World

  2. I loved this one soooo much! It's one of my favorites of the year. I'm happy that it lived up to the hype for you. :)

    1. I'm glad too! It was such an interesting book, it sucked me right in! :]

  3. Oh I really like this format! Your blog is really nice too! ^-^
    Great review, I have this on my shelves and I can assure you I'll be reading it soon! (x

    1. Thank you very much! :D Oh yes it is a long book but it is worth the time!

  4. I love this format! It certainly makes things a lot more organized and already marks this review different from the others!

    I've been seeing Shadow and Bone a lot in the online world but never outside. It's really frustrating.


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