Book review: Shadow and Bone
Book reviews

Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo

Release date: 5 June 2012
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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?

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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 is *sigh* ? ? ? ? ?

How I felt while reading it:

  • The Darkling is an asshole, and while I *usually* love assholes, I cannot get on board with this guy. He’s a genuine dick.
  • Mal is kind of sweet, he’s ok. Like a non-magical, far less cool Azriel.
  • Alina is kind of bland and naïve, but she’s ok I guess.
  • 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 Nikolai).
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?)

Until next time, happy reading. Love Meegs x


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