Title: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 5th, 2012 by Henry Holt
Group age: Young adult
Genre: Fantasy / Romance
Grade rate: A
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 fulfil 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.
Just wow. Every time that I read a book that everyone has been raving about and I love it, I feel like I could kick myself for taking me this long to read it. Shadow and Bone was SO GOOD!
Lately I’ve had a great deal of luck with the fantasy genre and Shadow and Bone is no exception. Bardugo was able to create such an amazing setting that is intricately involved with the plot of the story. The setting, although make believe, has the distinct flavor of Russia in the description of the buildings, the mode of dress, the weather and even in the language. Everything is so clearly described that is almost tangible.
The type of magic that the Grisha possess is unique. There are different kinds, some used for destruction and others for useful things, such as healing. The rest of the population is respectful to them, but I think that part of that respect came out of fear and resentment. Fear of the unknown and also of the know evils that they were capable off; and resentment, because although there was poverty all around, the Grisha has every rich imaginable.
Alina and Mel are orphans and childhood friends that decided to enlist in the army together. While there they find themselves crossing the Shadow Fold, a dark place full of awful monsters, but that must be crossed in order to reach the sea. Something unexpected happens there that makes Alina very special to the Grisha and to the kingdom in general.
Alina is loyal to Mal, her only true friend. All of her life she struggled to keep up with others and to hide something special within herself, to the extent that she forgot that it was even there and she did it all for Mal. On the other hand, Mal is like a big brother to her, protecting her from harm. He is smart and more careful to trust. I love their easy relationship, even if that’s not what Alina really wanted. I’m glad that Mal came to his senses, they make such a good couple!
I’m not sure how to describe the Darkling. He is all powerful and the leader of the Grisha. Unexpectedly, I liked him a lot. Not because he was dark and handsome, but because he treated Alina with tenderness and respect. I was waiting for a love triangle between him and Mat, but that never really came to fruition. The Darkling place close attention to Alina and he did something really bad, but (like many ‘bad’ guys) he truly thinks he is doing the right thing for his country.
I don’t want to describe the entire plot because you should experience it all by yourself (and besides, I don’t like spoilers). The pacing is slow; as we are learning about a new world, so please don’t get discouraged. The writing is exquisite, descriptive and eloquent. The story is full of twists and turns and even political undertones.
Shadow and Bone is an Epic Fantasy that I would recommend without reservations. To me, it all falls in the same category of Girl of Fire and Thorns, which is another of my favorities. I cannot wait for Siege and Storm, due to be published on June 14th.
Some quotes for you:
“I'm sorry it took me so long to see you, Alina. But I see you now.” – Mal
"I'm not used to people trying to kill me."
"Really? I hardly notice anymore.” – Alina to the Darkling
About the cover: I have to say that I was a little put off by the cover. Now I can see the meaning of the darkness and the contrast of the light, the Russian looking buildings, the antlers and even the swirls. I don’t think it will ever be my favorite, but now I get it.