Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Grisha Trilogy #1
Genre: Teen Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars
The Overview: 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.
I am a YA high fantasy addict. I’m sure of it. I just can’t seem to get enough, and Shadow and Bone was easily one of the most unique ones yet.
It all started with world-building. Actually, it started with an engaging prologue that had me hooked right away, then it dazzled me with world-building. I’m a sucker for desert settings (something which I’ve only just realized about myself), and the busy markets, the flag-topped tents, the “dry docks,” and the caravans were only some of the setting elements that created a really cool atmosphere for this book. Take all of that and add the shadowed white sands of the Fold – a magical dark divide containing flesh-eating monsters called volcra dividing the kingdom from the seaports on the other side – and I’m sold. It was fantastic.
But world-building goes beyond mere settings, and my favorite element was the magic system in the form of colorfully robed Grisha (I love it when things are color-coded, especially in books). The Grisha had many different talents, distinguished by these colored robes, and learning about them was easily my favorite part of the book. There’s even a school for Grisha, one which we get to explore a little. Bardugo definitely hit on several things that trigger my interest as a reader. My only hope going forward is that we get to learn even more about the Grisha because, as interesting as it was, we really only got into surface level stuff in this first book.
And the characters! Alina was incredibly relatable, which went a long way towards immersing me in the story. I liked her, but was also emotionally invested in her. She had a fantastic growth arc throughout the book, physically, emotionally, and mentally, and that’s probably why she was so much fun to read about. I also loved the the dynamic between her and the other characters, specifically Mal and The Darkling… let’s just say she surprised me (in a good way) on several occasion. It was refreshing.
Overall, this is an excellent addition to my arsenal of “awesome teen fantasy books” to recommend and I wish I had picked it up earlier. In any case, now that Ruin and Rising has just been released, I think I waited the perfect amount of time before devouring this trilogy (my apologies to those of you who’ve been waiting a few years, lol). That’s only part of it, though. What finally got me to pick it up was the news that Bardugo was just signed for a new trilogy taking place on one of the island nations within the series. I already kind of knew Shadow and Bone had a desert setting, but the knowledge that I’d be able to travel and explore this world through more books was incredibly appealing. So I hopped aboard the Grisha wagon… and I’m so glad I did! If you like any of my recommendations below, Shadow and Bone should definitely be on your list.
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