Review,  Fantasy,  YA

#BookReview : Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo / / engrossing fantasy with mesmerising world, amazing plot and characters

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

Publication Date : June 2017  (first published June 5th 2012)

Publisher : Square Fish

Genre : Fantasy / YA

Pages : 356

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.

*** Note : My own pride collection 😄 ***

Shadow and Bone was amazing first book, gave brilliant introduction to Grishverse world and characters, that revolved around Alina and Mal, two childhood friends that drifted apart as their path separated and found their way back to each other. It was about power and greed, social and class difference, war between countries, friendship, love, deceptions, evil vs good, and belongingness.

Writing was enthralling, mesmerising, vivid and fast paced that took me to amazing world of Grishas. It was third person narrative mainly from Alina’s perspective that gave amazing view towards the world, her emotions and feelings. Setting of Ravka, its history and traditions was great.

Plot was great. It started with introduction to Alina and Mal, how they grew up together in orphanage, how their life was together, and now as they were not kids anymore, their life has changed with their different path- Alina as assistant Cartographer who was skinny, invisible to boys while Mal as tracker in first army who has turned into cocky, handsome, and brave young man. What didn’t change was Alina still secretly loved Mal. When they tried to cross the Shadow Fold to complete their training in their respective fields, Alina’s dormant powers were revealed which put more distance between her and Mal’s already drifting apart life and friendship. I was curious to find out what her powers were, how important it was for her to have control over it, would Alina’s training as Grisha change her and her relationship with Mal, could she save the country and people in helping Darkling to get rid of Shadow Fold, or there were some sinister plan brewing.

There were so much going on in this book. As it was kind of introductory book we get more world building and we know what characters are and how their life changed with Alina’s new found power and less on development that I’m sure will come in next book. Both world and characters were mysterious that kept the book engaging. We have many questions along the book and get their answers as the story progressed and all those answers came at right point that added more curiosity to plot and characters.

Alina was timid, scrawny, and clumsy girl who lacked confidence and courage. She didn’t sleep or ate well and thought she wasn’t beautiful enough to attract attention of Mal or any boy. She was desperate to belong somewhere or with someone. When she found herself among other well trained and beautiful Grishas, it increased self-doubt and made her lonelier. I could feel her dilemma with such great responsibility and not getting any further with all the rigorous training. I was curious to know why she had trouble with food, sleep and how her power remained dormant so far but once the mystery behind it was unlocked her transformation was amazing. I loved this new confident, brave, and lively girl who found a place to belong, a power that was her own, not given by someone and not have to be dependent on someone, how she learned being beautiful is not everything and it has its disadvantages. I admired her courage, the risk she was taking in doing right thing and choosing right path and determination about not losing her freedom and not turning into monster with her power. Her connection with Darkling was complex and I’m still a little confuse about it, but I hope to get more answers in next book.

Mal was there only in beginning and in third part of the book, when actually know him. At the beginning I thought he was stupid for not noticing Alina and chasing after other beautiful girls and I think he over reacted when he arrived at the Little Palace in second half. He definitely didn’t have right to blame Alina for having something with Darkling when he didn’t notice her until that time and now that she was different he made it big deal!  But as story progressed and I knew what he really felt while Alina wasn’t around, I found my heart thawed a little and I loved him when he said he loved her even with the part that loved Darkling. Actually, his lost letter at the end of the book as bonus material helped in understanding his feelings more.

Darkling was amazing and truly wicked character. He was mysterious and there was more to him than met the eyes. We know him in real in second half after Alina’s chat with Bargha. I knew he was hiding something and had something to do with Mal and Alina not receiving letters but couldn’t point it until it was revealed. It was brilliant to read his true character and know him more. I enjoyed reading all secondary characters. I liked Genya, Bargha and Botkins. Others were unlikable or interesting while some were just there or had good role to play in story.

Romance was good, not exactly a major part of the book. Love triangle was written in good way. I usually don’t like this trope but here it was obvious who truly ruled Alina’s heart and while she was attracted to Darkling, Mal wasn’t there and she was sure he didn’t care about her. And all her feelings were before she actually knew Darkling. So totally fair. No matter how idiot Mal was or how Alina’s feelings made things complex, I liked friends-to-lover trope and their relationship getting stronger in third part of the book.

World was best part of the book. I enjoyed reading what Grishas were, their powers and ranks based on their skills and how it was differentiated with different coloured robes and embroidery; what was Shadow Fold and its history; what was Grisha amplifiers; Morozova’s herd and tale of the magical stag; war between countries and court drama; Ravkans who weren’t Grisha, how they lived and their fears and hopes and how they suffered most in battle of power and greed. I so much enjoyed descriptions of Grand palace and Little palace, other places of Ravka, winter fete and butter festival.  

My most favourite scene of the book was when Alina realised what was blocking her power and why she couldn’t eat and sleep and how she summoned her power for the first time; when Mal and Alina found the stag; and last part of the book.

Twist and turns were good. I could predict most of them, but some surprised me. Climax was tense. I was worried for Alina and Mal, cruelty of Darkling surprised me even more. I couldn’t guess how Alina could break the control and it was shocking to see what Darkling did with it. I loved all scenes just before end, what Alina did was out of character, but I could understand it. It was perfect end and I can’t wait to see what happens in next book.

Overall, Shadow and Bone was fast paced, engrossing fantasy with mesmerising world, amazing plot and characters. It was great first book of the series. I could see why fantasy readers love Leigh Bardugo.

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”


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