Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo

Release date: 5 June 2012
Goodreads link
Book Depository link
Rating4 stars

Shadow and Bone (Grisha, #1) blurb:

“I’ve been waiting for you a long time, Alina,” he said. “You and I are going to change the world.”

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the world of the kingdom’s magical elite – the Grisha. Could she be the key to setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a man of seductive charm and terrifying power. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must 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?

I have literally had this book sitting on my shelves for years. In fact, I think I’ve had something of a block when it came to reading it (kind of like how I do with ADSOM). I’d picked it up a couple of times to read but never really got past the first chapter. I am pleased to say that (thanks to the gentle pushing from Sofii!) I have now read the first book in the trilogy!! (In case you’re wondering, I read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom ages ago!)

OK, we’ve got Alina and Mal who grew up together as orphans on some Duke’s property (he took in a lot of orphans…). Alina has been in love with Mal (secretly) since she was a teenager, and Mal is totally oblivious to her feelings. Once they are grown(ish) they enlist in the first army together. Mal becomes a tracker, and Alina is a cartographer (or map-drawer person). They go to the FOLD (it’s a dark, mystical place of evil, filled with monsters that cuts Ravka in half, and it was created by a Darkling). Once there they are attacked and Alina is found to possess UNTOLD POWERS! GASP! She is then acquired by the Darkling and taken to learn how to use these new powers… Ensue additional plot points.

So, as far as the plot goes, I liked it but it wasn’t super ARGHHHH!! at any time. In fact, it was a little predictable^ and I found it quite a calm read for a fantasy book. There were some high stakes I guess, but they didn’t make me feel stressed while reading them. It was just a good solid, enjoyable read.

With the characters, I have been heavily prejudiced by the bookish community before reading this. What I had been told about the series prior to reading it was:

  • The Darkling is the greatest, smoothest, most amazing, soon to be love of my life.
  • Mal is absolute shit. Worst character ever. He’s essentially a wet blanket in person form.
  • Alina is annoying but has redeemable qualities.
  • Nikolai *sigh* *heart-eyes-emoji*

How I felt while reading it:

  • The Darkling is an asshole, and I love assholes, but I cannot get on board with this guy.
  • Mal is kind of sweet, he’s ok. Like a non-magical Azriel.
  • Alina is kind of bland, but she’s ok.
  • Who the f*** is Nikolai?^

So, that’s pretty much where I’m sitting at the moment.

The world building is pretty cool. I mean, I already know a chunk about it from the Six of Crows gang, and their escapades, but it’s nice to understand more about the Grisha side of things, because that was only lightly touched on with Nina.

If you’ve read the books, feel free to check my predictions (^) below!!

Predictions!!! (Possible spoilers?)

So. There hasn’t been a mention of Nikolai, but I know he exists because everyone started screaming about him when King of Scars was released. I think that Nikolai is the second prince that was alluded to in a single sentence when Alina and Genya were talking about the royal family. There’s the King (now sick), the Queen (currently in quarantine), the court prince (???), and the missing prince (who went to the battlefield to become a soldier or something, aka, my prediction for Nikolia).

Also, I totally didn’t see Alina gaining her powers back from the Darkling at the end of book 1. I totally thought she’d become a prisoner a la Mare from Red Queen. (I’m getting Maven vibes from the Darkling ok?)


29 thoughts on “Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo

Add yours

  1. I’m glad, overall, you’ve enjoyed the story 😄 and you just have to wait for Nikolai, he’ll appear soon to change you life as you know it lol, and if you continue with the trilogy, which I hope you do, I hope you enjoy it a lot because every book gets better and better 😊❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your plot description is 👌 I’ll keep my opinions about the characters until you carry on reading – except that I just lovelovelove Nikolai and that’s all. I do love the worldbuilding in the series, so much kudos to Leigh for creating the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You know what? I thought I was the only person who liked Mal more than the Darkling! 😂 Glad to see you pretty much feel the same way. I don’t love either of them, but something tells me that the Darkling is very Not Good.

    I haven’t read the other books in this series, and I haven’t read SoC either. But I’m still waiting to see Nikolai!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, so I wasn’t the last one to read Shadow and Bone! It sure feels like that sometimes, it’s so wildly known and discussed in the community haha. I binge-read the trilogy a few weeks ago, and I have mixed feelings about it. I expected to be on a similar opinion as the majority, but like you, I just couldn’t stand the Darkling – he wasn’t only highly unlikable, but even as a villain he felt so unconvincing, especially in the final novel. (I hope you’ll write a review for it, because I’m VERY curious what you’ll think of that, and also of Nikolai, who I was a bit meh about too haha.) Fantastic review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HAHAHAHAHA, no, you weren’t the last!! (It’s always me tbh!!) And yes, I had such high expectations of the Darkling, and I felt like he was kind of more like a petulant child?? Like, if he’s so old, why is he throwing tantrums?? Surely he’d be better at manipulating people!! Also, waiting for Alina to get white blonde hair like in all the fan art is like waiting for paint to dry… 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He really is like a child haha. And I’m so confused how am I supposed to find him “hot” when he plans to enslave Alina all along!? I knew he was going to be evil, but I thought he’d want Alina as an equal based on all the love this ship has gotten. I wish I’d read this earlier, I may have understood the hype more, idk. 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Honestly agree with what you mentioned here! After reading and rating and reviewing the books I realised Mal was a pretty annoying character 😂 and yes to the darkling. Also, how did you make that dropdown part for your predictions bit? I’m really looking forward to seeing the rest of your thoughts on the series!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh, it’s code!! If you look up my post “Two truths and a lie” I’ve put it there for people to copy!! You have to put it in the HTML section (unlike me the first time I used it – because I’m an idiot….) 😘
      I can’t wait to keep reading and seeing if all my predictions come true!!

      Liked by 1 person

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