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 – Source
Um, wow, even with all the glowing reviews, I was unprepared for the immense love I have for Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone. I was thrust into this new fantasy realm, unsure of what lay ahead, but I finished the book eagerly wanting to return to the world of Ravka.
Alina Starkov is the protagonist of Shadow and Bone and I immediately took a liking to her. Though she may be cynical at times, at the core she feels an overwhelming loneliness and suffers from a lack of self-confidence. Yes, you could probably say that about every other female main character in a YA novel, but Alina really struck a chord with me. She grew a lot throughout the course of the novel, from a naive and weak girl to someone stronger. Leigh Bardugo didn’t have an immediate transformation for her, though: it was a difficult journey for Alina and she still has a long way to go to meet her potential. When she does, though, it will be very much earned.
The Darkling is a character I feel completely DISTRAUGHT over. Leigh Bardugo created the perfect mysterious character in him: powerful, seductive, and 100% magnetic. Man, I was completely swooning all over the place for him during his initial interactions with Alina. Still, through it all, I had the sinking feeling that things weren’t as they seemed and I kept wondering, “Am I supposed to love him?!” I have no idea where my feelings should go from this book, I feel all sorts of conflicted at the moment, but I’m still very attached to the Darkling and am excited to see where his character arc goes. IF THIS IS WRONG, I DON’T WANT TO BE RIGHT, ETC.
Mal is the main love interest in the book, as well as Alina’s best friend, and I really like him! I can’t say I had extremely gushing feelings for him, but that’s because he was missing for a good chunk of the book. The parts that he was in, though, I really enjoyed his character and I have an appreciation for his friendship with Alina. They’ve experienced a lot together, both as children and in the present, making it clear that their bond is an unbreakable one.
This review would be incomplete without a mention of Leigh Bardugo’s world building. With a Russian influence, she crafted the Grisha mythology and I was super invested in it. There’s an awesome map of Ravka at the beginning of the book, but it served only as a visual aid — Leigh Bardugo completely laid out her world in the text.
With mystery, romance, action, and complete with a touch of magic, Leigh Bardugo has created a book that is sure to make my end of the year lists. I loved how she wrapped up this installment: with enough closure, but still keeping the door open for many more adventures ahead.
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