Review: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Sinister monsters lurk in the endless darkness of the Shadow Fold….a condemned fragment within the land of Ravka. On the Fold, Alina Starkov and her army regiment (which includes her best friend, Mal) are attacked by these evil beasts.

In the face of certain death and desperation, Alina reveals an ancient power that has been dormant inside her, which saves Mal’s life.

But once she reveals what she is, others conspire to steal her power but one intends to foster it–the Darkling.

The Darkling takes Alina under his wing, seducing her with promises of power and peace. Alina is captivated by him, like calls to like.

Arriving in Os Alta (the capital), Alina is to begin honing her skills. She will train as a Grisha.

The Grisha are an ancient order all specializing in various magical powers. The three main orders are: Coporalki (the Order of the Living and the Dead), Etheralki (the Order of the Summoners) and the Materialki (the Order of Fabrikators) and then sorted into various minor hierarchies.

Though her powers should have been revealed as a child, Alina’s were not. She must learn how to conjure her light.

While Alina struggles to embrace her new identity, she must also beware of her heart. The Darkling is handsome, powerful, and ambitious. Like calls to like.

Alina has heard the stories and rumors of the Darkling. He is evil, he is ruthless…..but is he truly sinister? In a few unguarded moments, Alina can see the Darkling’s vulnerability…his weaknesses. But then again, can one ever really trust powerful men? With the future of Ravka in jeopardy, Alina doesn’t have the luxury of being wrong.

Shadow and Bone is a wicked alluring new series to be sure. I’ve only recently began dabbling in the high fantasy genre when I came across this book (really who could miss that lush cover?!). I haven’t read any YA high fantasy series, so I was really intrigued by this book. I didn’t really know what to expect when I picked it up.

The setting has an obvious Russian influence which I thought brought an interesting twist to the story. When I think of high fantasy, I think Medieval England-ish settings….the Russian influence added a layer of mystique and unfamiliarity to the story. This immediately gave me the feeling that I was reading something new and different.

I liked Alina as the heroine. I thought she was strong but not overly stubborn or ambitious. Her heartbreaks, failures, and inner conflict were relatable but what I liked most was her tenacity. I felt like she was never quite willing to admit defeat. I felt that she was a fighter and a survivor and wasn’t afraid to make the hard choice which I admired immensely.

Mal was honorable and would do anything for Alina. He was strong and relentless with his own powers, but at times I wasn’t sure he was the man for her. I am not sure he fully understand Alina and her powers and what she is, but the reader certainly knows that he loves her.

The Darkling was easily the most intriguing character for me. I thought he was sexy, exciting, dangerous, and scary all at the same time. I instantly wanted to know more about him. I thought he understood Alina in a way that Mal never could, but could he be trusted? Should he be trusted? I devoured his character and loved watching him grow to become the villain.

This book clearly has a dark, quirky feel to it. I loved that it was high fantasy, I loved the adventure, the romance, the magic, the journey, the characters….everything. It was a well balanced, developed book. It had just the right amount of all the elements that make books good. No one element over powered the story in the least.

YA is often heavy on the romance and action but shallow on the character development and plot structure….but in this book I didn’t feel any of the typical YA cliches. I thought it was all well portioned and perfectly blended satisfying both adults and teens alike.

If you are even thinking of reading this book, do not hesitate. Think on it no more. This book is different and will absolutely not be a disappointment.

Like the monstrous volcra, this story reaches out and grabs you, dragging you deeper into it’s depths. It threatens never to return you. Be ready for this book to consume you.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo

  • Kindle Edition, 368 pages
  • Published June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • ISBN 0805094598 (ISBN13: 9780805094596)

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 5 out of 5 (a wicked, dark high fantasy series perfect for YA readers and adults a like)

Genre: Fantasy, high fantasy, YA

Memorable lines/quotes:

But I got up and did it all over again. And again. And again. Each day was worse and more frustrating than the one before, but I didn’t stop. I couldn’t (145)

Like calls to like (338)

6 thoughts on “Review: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo

    1. Oh absolutely!! I am hosting the ASOIAF (Game of Thrones) Reading Challenge on my blog and I’ve read the first 3 books in that series….I am REALLY looking forward to reading A Feast of Crows :). I read Wizard’s First Rule last week and liked that as well. I am thinking of reading Graceling by Kristin Cashore as a possible next venture into YA High Fantasy….and I have The Dark Tower series by Stephen King on my radar….as well as The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. High Fantasy is a genre I NEVER thought I would get into but the more I read the more I discover how much I like it! I am anxious to read more YA High Fantasy since they aren’t as long, complex, and all consuming as other series like ASOIAF. Thanks for the lovely comments, cheers and happy reading 🙂

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