Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #1
Next Book: Siege and Storm
Source: Personal purchase
Description from Goodreads:
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 fulfill 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.
I had seen Leigh Bardugo’s books around a lot in the blogosphere, but after reading the description, I wasn’t sure it was for me. However, I went to a Fierce Reads signing and decided to buy books by all the authors. Then I agreed to do a buddy read on Goodreads. I am SO glad that I changed my mind on this one because I ended up really enjoying it!
I was a little confused at first when starting Shadow and Bone because the first chapter is entitled “Before” and is sort of like an prologue, but it is written in third person narrative, and the characters are mostly referred to as “the boy” and “the girl”. However, as soon as Chapter 1 starts, it switches to first person with Alina as the narrator.
Once the actual story picked up, I thought that it started off really well, though it did take me a bit to get used to some of the words. There were several that I assume are a different language, so I wasn’t sure on pronunciation or meaning, and at first, they were introduced without any explanation. The explanations did come shortly afterward, though, so it wasn’t too bad.
However, once Alina discovers her powers, she is taken to the Little Palace in Os Alta to learn to control her power and other aspects of Grisha life. The pace slowed down a bit while she was in training, but I still found it interesting. I tend to be fairly forgiving of series premieres, especially in fantasy, due to the necessity of world-building, so it may not be the most exciting book, but I know that it’s setting us up for important things.
And set us up it did. The last 30-40% of the book was definitely full of twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting at all, and then last 10-15% had me feverishly turning pages, dying to see what would happen next.
As far as the characters, it’s hard to say how I felt about them. I thought that Genya was hilarious, and the Darkling was mysterious and charming, but I was kind of apathetic toward Alina and Mal. I didn’t dislike either of them, but I wasn’t really that invested in them either.
I thought that the ending was great. It definitely tied up what needed to be tied up for this book but also left enough open that I was very eager to go straight to the sequel, which I did.
Though the world-building and foreign words slowed this down a little for me, I really liked Shadow and Bone and would definitely recommend it.