by Leigh Bardugo
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (June 5, 2012)
Buy the book: Amazon
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.
At a Glance:
I was completely surprised by how much I loved this book. With action, adventure, fighting, romance, and mystical powers and creatures, my epic fantasy addiction was completely satisfied by Shadow and Bone!
An Epic Epic!
There just aren't enough books in this genre. There is no other type of book that has the power to completely suck me in like a well-written Epic/High Fantasy. After I finished Shadow and Bone, I just sat and thought about this world for hours. I couldn't bring myself to pick up another book because I didn't want to leave this world behind. Leigh Bardugo does an amazing job of immersing you into the world that she's created, without leaving you bored and bogged down by details. I feel like it's a fine line between fascinating and boring when it comes to details, and she definitely pulled off fascinating. One of the things I found particularly original (for me anyway) was the base in Russian history and dialect. I loved that aspect, and it just added a certain feel to the book that I enjoyed. The world was so mystical and enchanting. I can sit and stare at the amazing map, and just picture Alina traveling all the places that are mentioned.
Tension, Lust, Love and Romance:
One of the things that Epic Fantasy seems to consistently get right is the romance. My heart was all over the place in this book. "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" I loved the sweet relationship between Alina and Mal at the beginning of this book. Reading how Alina was falling for the boy who had been her best friend and protector her entire life, while he didn't seem to notice her in that way was both torturous and endearing. That was nothing compared to what happened when the Darkling entered the picture, though. Who can resist the bad boy? Not that he was a boy.....not at all. The Darkling brought a layer of mystery and confusion that took the lustmance (yeah, made that up) to a different level. Let me just say that I loved the love story in this book. Loved it. I have no idea what's going to happen in the next two books, but I can't wait to find out.
I Want to be a Grisha:
I think there's a part of everyone who thinks that somewhere deep down, we actually have magical powers, and that they're just biding their time, waiting to manifest at the perfect moment, when our lives are on the line, and then....watch out! What? That's just me? Well, yeah, I want to be a Grisha. I want to be able to slice my hands through the air and cut someone in half. Or just fix my wrinkles. ;) Yeah, I think being Grisha would be pretty freakin' awesome.
The Psychology of it All:
One thing that really surprised me was the psychology behind Alina's story; oh, how powerful the mind is. At first there were times when I was really aggravated with Alina and her behavior and her view of herself. As I read, though, and saw the way her childhood affected her, and how her character developed over time, I really grew to appreciate her. I loved that her logic and her desire to do right were at constant war with what was easy and what she may have originally thought she wanted or needed.
The Seven Realms by Cinda Chima, The Seven Kingdoms by Kristin Cashore, The Pelinor Series by Alison Croggon
P.S. For those wishing to talk Russian dialect inaccuracies or certain issues you have with the MC, I have lots of thoughts and would love to discuss in the comments :D
- Profanity: Mild
- Sexual Content: Moderate*
- Violence: Heavy
- Other Notables: Alcoholic-type beverages consumed, but this is not illegal.