Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Grishaverse Trilogy #1
Published by Square Fish/Macmillan
Released June 5, 2012
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I read the Six of Crows duology and adored everything about it last year (read my reviews here). At the time, I didn’t know that the GrishaVerse trilogy existed, but looking back, I wish I had read the two series in the correct order. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed Shadow and Bone, and am looking forward to reading the next two books in this trilogy.
Shadow and Bone follows Alina Starkov, an orphan that grew up to be a soldier and mapmaker. Her childhood best friend, Mal, has followed the same path.
The story begins as the army is nearing a terrifying place known as The Fold, or the Unsea. It’s essentially a part of the land that has been erased, overcome by an inky blackness and which is inhabited by the volcra, terrifying flying monsters.
The army is joined by many high-ranking Grisha (people who have magic abilities) as well as the Darkling, second in power only to the king.
The apprehension of the army is warranted, as they are attacked quickly after venturing into the fold. Everything seems lost, until, suddenly, a burst of pure white light saves them.
Alina is captured by the ranking military officials and brought before the Darkling afterward, but she has no idea why, or how she is connected to that brilliant flash of light. From there, the journey follows Alina’s journey as she discovers a magic hidden deep within her.
As I said at the beginning of this article, I really loved this book. It’s in no way perfect, but I flew through it because I had to know what happened next.
There are some really enjoyable characters in this book. Alina and the Darkling are both fascinating, particular the Darkling, who is mysterious and whose motives are we are unsure of. My favorite character in the story, however, is Genya, who is such a fun, colorful character, and I hope we see more of her in the books to come.
At the same time, one of the other main characters in the novel, Alina’s childhood friend Mal, seemed very under-developed in comparison. He just didn’t seem to have much personality, although he did get better towards the very end of the novel.
The reason I couldn’t give this book five stars is that there were a couple of issues that I believe could have been handled better by Bardugo.
First, Alina changes her mind and her loyalties far too quickly, and with nearly no evidence to make the things she does a good decision. I can’t expound on this point too much without giving away spoilers, but there’s a very distinct point in the story where her loyalties change, and it’s too sudden and rash.
Second, the romantic relationship between Alina and the Darkling felt so forced that it caused me to roll my eyes a few times. I guess I understand their relationship, particularly as Alina may be drawn to the power he represents, but I still did not enjoy those parts of the book.
Otherwise, this is a great first book in a trilogy, and I am very much looking forward to reading Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising.