Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grishaverse #1
Rating: 3/5 ★★★☆☆
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.
This book suffers a bit from being the first book of a series, it takes a lot of time explaining how everything works and setting the basis for the new series so that makes the pacing a bit dragging.
I wish Alina had more girl friends at the start too. The whole “I don’t have friends because they are shallow and in love with my only friend” is a tired trope. On that line, since Mal was her only friend I think he could have gotten a bit more of character development but since it’s from Alina’s POV I get why this was.
The Darkling was an appropriately creepy villain, I liked how we didn’t see his true colors until the second half of the book.
All in all, it was a nice book but I came in expecting something more.
She is your typical YA heroine. She is the chosen one and she has a childhood friend whom she has feelings for but can’t tell him, she is a loner, an outsider who must forge her own path. At the beginning she is shallow and doesn’t relate to others very well but she comes onto herself a bit. Still has a lot more to grow in the following books, though.
Malyen “Mal” Oretsev
This character is lacking something and I can’t tell what. He isn’t bad but he is frightfully bland and I didn’t care for him or his wellbeing at any point in the story. To be fair we mostly saw him through Alina’s memories but still, I hope we get more development on the next part of the series.
Perfect villain is perfect. NOT because I like him or I think that at the bottom of his heart he is good. But because he is cruel and manipulative and nasty but presents himself so well. He is a masterfully written villain and he is awful.
The Darkling is a thousand-year old being capable of destroying everything on Earth… and still lives with his mother. I don’t get how the child can be stronger that the mother, since she is older and has been practicing the longest.
She kept some secrets that could make life easier for everyone but chooses to keep them to protect her son? She should have stabbed him in his sleep.
I support her 100%, I’m not sure why but I stan her. She has such a shitty life
because of the Darkling but still manages to be kind to Alina and smile through everything. Sure, she is as much a slave to the Darkling as Alina at the end but she is a genuinely good person
I just don’t like her archetype, the bitchy popular girl who hates on the MC at first sight and wants to steal her boyfriends. Uuuuugh. I know there’s gotta be more to this character than that but, sadly we couldn’t see it in this book. I know (more or less) how she ends up since she appears at the end of Crooked Kingdom, so I have high hopes.
The world! We got so much world building in this novel. At times it was too much explaining but the world itself is fantastic. I loved how the social hierarchies were put in place and the way each character related to their own experiences and how different points of views had different versions of the same setting.
The court was wicked and realistic, I enjoyed seeing the nobles and the royals interact. You know they all hate each other and would sell the other out without a thought but they still used perfect courtesy.
I don’t really understand how people can like the Darkling? He was a perfect villain, true, but a villain nonetheless. He was dark and manipulative and powerful, the set-up for the grand reveal was nicely done
if a bit too obvious
That said, the way Alina fell for the Darkling was masterfully done. The girl was starved for love and attention and he gave her that, his advances subtle enough that she didn’t suspect a thing but still effective enough that she was willing to sleep with him before running.
Alina could have had at least some girl friends. At the beginning we see her as isolated from the other girls because they all want to be with her because of Mal and she is so above them it’s kind of annoying. I mean, she is every main character in most YA books but I thought we’d be past that by now.
Also, let’s talk about why she didn’t have the powers until the Shadow Fold. She was literally harming herself just so she could stay with the boy she liked?? That’s f*cked up. Not using her power made her tired and clumsy and, you know, powerless, but she justified it all because she wanted to stay with Mal… what kind of message is that? I hope this is addressed farther in the series.
Tha pacing was kind of weird. I felt like we went through long stretches of not much happening and suddenly something big and important and EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING
I didn’t like Mal as a love interest, I just can’t see it. The boy is an air-head who didn’t know the first thing about his supposed best friend and is used to leaving her alone for so long that Alina is surprised when he actually comes to see her while on camp.
And there’s nothing wrong with being a lizard either. Unless you were born to be a hawk.
What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.
“There is something more powerful than any army. Something strong enough to topple kings, and even Darklings. Do you know what that thing is?”
I shook my head, inching away from him.
“Faith,” he breathed, his black eyes wild. “Faith.”