Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #1
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co on June 5th 2012
Genre(s): Fantasy (YA)
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.
Well…I’m extremely late to this book party. This series had so much hype, I’ve been waiting to read it for a while. I was so ready to love it and I just didn’t. But I didn’t hate it either, I liked it enough. I’m just not gushy head over heels for it like a lot of people.
In the land of Ravka, there may be a King that rules but the Grisha are the ones with power. Especially the leader of the Grisha, the Darkling. The Grisha have magical powers, ranging from kinds of magic. Ravka has been split for over a hundred years by a place called the Fold that houses flesh eating monsters, the volcra.
The book follows Alina, orphaned by war at a young age, she lived in. by the generosity of a Duke, in his house that he converted into an orphanage. There she befriended Mal, a boy her age also orphaned by war. They grew very close and even eventually join military service together.
During one military excursion, they are trying to cross the Fold to reach other side of Ravka to the sea. They are attacked by the volcra and when Mal’s life is in danger, Alina suddenly shines bright as the sun, scaring off the dangerous creatures.
In that moment, Alina’s whole life changes. The Darkling is telling her she’s really a Grisha, a very important, one that could destroy the Fold and save Ravka. She’s taken away from Mal and straight to the palace to begin her training.
It’s a completely different world than what she’s ever known. She is surrounded by beautiful things and beautiful people. The Darkling (completely handsome and mysterious of course) seems to be laying a claim on her. But everything is not as is seems, there is a darker reason her powers are needed and she doesn’t know who to trust.
This series is supposed to take inspiration from Russian history and culture. However I don’t know enough about Russian culture to pick up on anything but nothing but stood out to me as particularly Russian, except a few words. (I have read several reviews stating that the culture use was pretty much wrong and maybe even a bit offensive)
Alina was very much the “woe is me and I’m ugly and no one will ever love me” girl, and though her…rough? Appearance is eventually explained, is was just a bit exhausting to read over and over about how she’s so scrawny and pale. There was a bit of character development, when she accepted herself but then, guess what! She became pretty! She’s naïve but not stupid. I didn’t have any strong feelings for or against her. Or any other character for that matter, except maybe the Darkling.
The world building was so/so. I would have loved a bit more history about the land. Overall, I felt this book was missing something. Not bad enough for me to dislike but not quite hitting the mark.